Make brushing teeth fun for your kids

Make brushing teeth fun for your kids

Baby teeth need to be cared for as soon as they appear.  Just like adults, kids should have their teeth cleaned twice a day – after breakfast and just before bed.  Look for a toothbrush with a very small head and soft bristles.  It recommends brushing teeth with water only for babies younger than 18 months. Parents should help their children brush their teeth until the age of eight and should avoid buying toothpastes that are high in fluoride. Don’t allow them to eat toothpaste.

If your kids refuse to brush – we have a few tricks to help.

 

Try incorporating teeth-brushing into bath time so they quickly accept it as a part of their routine. If there is an older sibling, let them brush together. Make sure they are involved, let them choose their own toothbrush. Fun characters will do the trick. Then, pick a great flavor of toothpaste. Give your child a toothbrush to play with. Let them brush their doll or their stuffed toy’s teeth. Or let your child brush your own teeth. Have them pick their favorite song to play while they brush. Use your toothbrush as a microphone.

 

Offer some rewards. A little something to provide motivation will suffice. Allow your child to pick a book to read or a sticker after brushing. Make brushing fun for your kids and make it a favorite part of the day.

Parenting Tips for Raising Teenagers

Parenting Tips for Raising Teenagers

Parenting is a hard work, especially raising teenagers.  As you child grows into adolescence, it brings plenty of challenges.  Here are some tips for raising teenagers.

1,   Be a role model.  Help them adopt good moral and ethical standards.  They need a reliable role model worthy of their respect.  Parents need to put an equal emphasis on disciplining ourselves.  “Seeing is believing.”     

2.  Give teens some freedom. They need to be allowed to make choices and to experience the consequences of their choices in order to learn personal responsibility and self-discipline. Giving them some freedom is helping them establish their own identity.  But they also still need supervision and guidance to avoid poor choices and mistakes. 

3.  Let them feel guilty when they have done something wrong or have hurt someone.  Let them learn from those mistakes.

4.  Parents should set rules.  Have some discussion about the rules and make sure your teenager understands them.  Explain your reasons for it.

5.  Don’t debate them ever.  They need to know that no means no, particularly when they want to engage in trouble or in behaviors that are dangerous.

6.  Get to know their friends.  If you really want to know what your kid is up to, encourage them to invite their friends into your own home. To know their friends is to know your kids.

7.  Parents should talk to their teenagers. Don’t interrogate.  Start the conversation by sharing what you have been thinking about, a few tidbits about your own day and ask about theirs.  It lets your kids know you care about what’s happening in their lives.  Avoid “The Lecture”, have a conversation.  Parents who lecture are not heard.

Montessori Inspired Word Study – Antonyms & Synonyms

Over the past year we have been exploring different words that have come up during conversations or from something we have heard on a documentary or from a book that we have read. We have spent sometime talking about the word of interest and have explored these words further using Montessori inspired activities, different games, though play and everyday life. Here are some of the ways and resources we have used to learn about antonyms and synonyms.


Learning about antonyms (opposite words) and synonyms (words with same meaning) can develop naturally through conversations, stories and life. When children are engaged in rich language environments that support and encourage meaningful conversations with lots of stories and play, they are continually exposed to language and develop an awareness of words that maybe unfamiliar to their vocabulary. 

Antonyms
Learning about simple antonyms, such as the word ‘hot’, is easily reinforced by the feeling of being hot and knowing that you want to be cold or at least cooler. When an interest in antonyms came up, I searched for resources that could encouraged independent learning. I found a Learning To Read – Antonyms game that is recommended for ages 4+ and uses self-correcting cards that has both pictures and words. At first we played together as I introduced the cards and words before independent learning occurred. As an alternate resource, you can use The Opposite Game, which is a free printable,  to support your early learner in their discovery of antonyms.

  
As my son has grown more confident in his understanding of antonyms, I made our own set of Antonym cards for him to work with. I introduced a set of six cards at a time (sometimes more) and spent a number of days using them. 


With the cards we looked at what the words mean, looked at their spelling and talked about and practiced how these words are used in both spoken and written language.  


Synonyms

Synonyms are just as easy to learn when there is a rich language environment. Building an awareness and understanding of synonyms helps expand vocabulary and supports expressive and descriptive writing. An understanding of verbs (a describing words) would assist learning about synonyms.

I made some synonym cards that focus on two words that mean the same. I introduced each set of six cards over the course of a number of weeks. We used our movable alphabet to reinforce the words and their relationship while making a visual representation of the word to support recall and memory. We talked about these words, how they are used in language both written and spoken. Sometimes we even chose a word for the day to see how many time we could use it in our everyday language. My son came up with this great everyday example when he said, “Mum, I’d like to inquire about the produce we are going to consume for dinner”. 


For those who are interested, you can download my FREE printable Montessori Inspired Antonyms and Synonyms cards that I have shown in the pictures above (I have just changed the colour of the cards).

Over at Elementary Observations, they share a Montessori lesson about Introducing Synonyms and have available their FREE printable synonym cards. We downloaded their cards and, using their idea, acted out the different synonyms on the cards building an awareness of how these words mean the same thing. This is such a fantastic activity where the learner is not only reading but also engaging their senses to support understanding. 


Currently we are playing the Synonyms Bingo Game which is recommended for ages 10+. This game focuses on learning 37 different synonym words as you match words from the cards with the same meaning words on the bingo board. In doing this, it is building vocabulary and readings skills. The game comes with 36 playing boards/cards, bingo chips, calling cards and a instruction and answer guide. You can find this game at child.com.au


We have also used a few different printable resources such as Synonyms Dominoes Game and Could That BEE a Synonym or Antonym, that you can download for FREE. 


You can find more grammar/parts of speech learning ideas and resources on my pinterest board.

child.com.au gifted us the Synonym Bingo game. However all ideas and thoughts expressed here are my own.

10 Resources for Fractions, Decimals & Percentages

My son, who is 10 years old, has always loved maths and his enthusiasm has been closely followed by his ability to grasp and understand different maths concepts quickly and easily. Maths is definitely his area of strength which is fantastic as he has dyslexia and struggles with language. Recently I was asked about the different resources we have used to learn about fractions, decimals and percentages so I thought I would share it with you in this post. I have previously written about 10+ ways to play with fractions and have shared hands-on ideas for learning about decimals which includes my free printable cards and decimal place value slider. 


My son is kinesthetic/tactile and visual learner as he learns best when he is using his hands and when he is able to see “the big picture”. So all the resources I’ll share are hands-on and visual as they support my sons learning style. 

One of our favourite resources has been the Fraction Equivalency Pocket Chart. This chart is just fantastic when you start learning about fractions and supports further learning about equivalencies between fractions, decimals and percentages. Each relationally sized card make is easier to see and match the value of each fraction while each card is colour-coded to support independent learning. The number value is on the front side of the cards while the word name is on the reverse side. 


Another great resource that we have used is the Fraction Tower Cubes. These interlocking blocks are a great hands-on resource for matching and comparing fractions. I purchased the Equivalence Tower Cube Set as it came with not only the fractions that are in the Fraction Tower Cubes, but it also has decimals and percentages.


Another resource that is fantastic for comparing fractions, decimals and percentages is the Fraction Modular Flip Book. The flip book uses a visual representation of the fraction/decimal/percentage and allows the learner to focus on one concept at a time or all of them as the book modules can be snapped easily together. 


Games such as bingo are such a great way for learners to apply their understanding and reinforce what they have learnt. The Fractions, Decimal and Percentage Bingo game is fantastic for offering learners practise in recognizing, identifying and converting fractions, decimals and percentages. The game comes with 36 double sided boards that focus on fractions and decimals (orange board below) while other boards (green) focus on fractions, decimals and percents. There is also a Fraction Bingo Game available. 


Converto Fraction to Decimals to Percentage Cards are another fantastic hands-on resource. Each card can be associated with the pictorial reference cards and allows for different games t be played such as Go Fish, Memory/Concentration and Snap! 

There are different versions of Pizza Fractions that are available and this is one of the fun games we have played while learning about fractions. Although this game just focuses on fractions, we adapted it so we could also convert decimals and percentages. You can also find a Magnetic Pizza Fraction Set too.


There are also some fantastic FREE PRINTABLE RESOURCES that can be downloaded and used to learn about fractions, decimals and percentages. Below are links that you can click on to find FREE printable fraction and decimal games that we have used: 

You can find more hands-on learning ideas about fractions, decimals and percentages on my Pinterest board.

child.com.au gifted me the Fraction Module Flip Book in exchange for this blog post. All other resources I have shared here were purchased by me. All ideas and thoughts expressed here are my own. 

Unschooling & Labels

 We’ve always used the label Unschooling for our choice of lifestyle and I wanted to clear some of the misconceptions surrounding the term. I’ve recently noticed many families shy away from using the term Unschooling to describe their home education choices because of the seemingly negative connotations attributed to it. Here’s my take on the label.


Firstly, what does Unschooling actually mean? The most commonly used understanding of where the term originated is by author John Holt who apparently saw a television add for a brand of soda which was pitching itself against Coca Cola (of course the market giant) and claiming to be ‘Un-Cola’. So this drink was Not Cola in the least and therefore different and original. I assume Holt really liked the simplicity of using just a prefix – the prefix ‘un’ means ‘not’ –  to differentiate its brand, and the point of the commercial as the obvious disparity between the two, one was Coca Cola and the other was most definitely NOT Cola. In any case, soon after, the label Unschooling was born and when broken down the term Unschool essentially means ‘NOT School’.

If we define school by what we experience in the western world it is easy to see why Holt liked this explanation of the learning lifestyle that he was championing – very little of the institution of school ever makes  it into the lives of Unschoolers. Holt obviously hoped that by clearly defining Unschooling as NOT School people would easily understand the meaning of this choice. However, the perplexity seems to reign in the definition of School. I’ve discovered that most people seem to believe that the term school is equal to the term Education and when you look up the meanings for each word, it’s easy to understand the confusion. However, if we look at the broader meaning of Education we find that in essence, the process of inquiry and gaining knowledge can be applied to many facets of every day life, so therefore Holt choosing Unschooling to mean NOT School makes absolute sense.

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Some families – and even some of the bigger names in the alternative home education movement – dislike the term Unschooling because it seems to focus on the negative; on what it is NOT rather than what it IS. However, I disagree about it being negative. If school is such an integral part of our western society then it is easy to assume that most children would attend school at the appropriate age. When we say we are Unschooling, we are basically saying that we are Not inviting school into our lives and choosing to continue living our lives Without School. Our life looks nothing like school – we live and learn from daily life – so the term feels very fitting for our family.

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I’ve observed that there seems to be a hesitation with using a specific term for the choice of home education a family has chosen, and that people are shying away from using labels altogether. While on one hand I understand the desire to rebel against societys need to categorise everything, on the other hand if we do not label what we do, then how do we find our tribe? How do we find the community of people who truly understand our ways of thinking and can best support us in this evolving journey? Especially when you are making decisions that are on the outer of mainstream understanding, it is wonderful to have people in your corner who really get you and where you feel you belong.

In this case, I feel labels are important and I honestly believe that once we get really comfortable with the choice we’ve made, we usually have no problems sharing it with the world. So is the term Unschooling the problem, or the making of the decision which is causing angst?  For us, we’re happy to stick with the term Unschooling because we see learning as a natural and every day process, not something that is manufactured and systematised.

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Using the Unschooling label helps us identify with other families who are choosing a similar route, to gather support when we need it, and even to inspire others who feel this is a path they want to take. Labels don’t have to be about comparison or negativity, not if we choose not to engage in that way of thinking. It feels very positive to us to use the term Unschooling, and I encourage you to own the various decisions and ways of living you’re making with your family and use those labels far and wide. Build your village and community and revel in the fact that you’ve made choices that feel good for you!