Parents Helping Parents of Wyoming State Parenting Center

Archive for the ‘PEN Outreach Parent Liaison Guest Blogs’ Category

PHP in 2011

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 57 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Fun Fall Activites in Wonderful WY

Natalie Pique- PEN Outreach Liaison Casper Area

Our family is always sad to see summer go, but we always look forward to fall in Wyoming. We have several “fall” traditions that make this time of the year fun for everyone in our family. As we live in a 60 year old neighborhood with very mature trees, there are always plenty of leaves to make piles to jump in. With 11 kids on our block, there is always fun to be found by simply gathering the leaves in big piles and taking turns jumping in! Another fall activity that we always make the time to do is to take the short trip up to Casper Mountain to see all the beautiful leaves and their brilliant fall colors. The best place to see the leaves is to take a hike around the falls or Beartrap Meadows. My kids always seem to have a “Fall Leaves” project at school, and they get their best collection from these trips to the mountain.

Our very favorite activity in the fall is a tradition that we started when we moved to Casper from Colorado 10 years ago. When we first moved here, we didn’t know many of our neighbors, so we planned a “Soup before Trick-or-Treating” dinner at our home. We had 4 crock-pots full of various kinds of soup and invited all of the neighbors on our block over for a warm-up before going out to Trick-or-Treat. This was a big hit for kids and parents alike: The kids all got to show off their costumes, the parents got to visit with neighbors while knowing their kids had something in their stomachs other than mini Hershey Bars & candy. This tradition has grown to include friends, family, and new neighbors throughout the years, and it is something our family will treasure forever. Happy Fall!

Tips to Keep Kids Ready for School

Natalie Pique- PEN Outreach Liaison Casper Area

Ahhh…summertime! Summertime at our household means baseball games most nights, motocross races most weekends, and bike rides & swimming at the pool at the end of our street during the long days. My family looks forward to summer and all the fun that it brings…as well as the less stringent schedule that we keep during the school year. That being said, I have always tried to “sneak” in a little education & learning activities to alleviate the loss experienced with three months off from school. The easiest way that I have found is to sign my kids up for the local summer reading program at the library. This program offers incentives such as baseball tickets, ice cream tokens, and free pool passes in exchange for a reading log with recorded minutes of reading. Another way is to look for educational camps such as Astronomy Camp or the multiple Science Camps offered in our area. My most favorite learning/reading activity that has proved very successful with both of my children is to choose a book that we read together for at least 20 minutes a night. This summer, Jake (my 10 year old) chose Harry Potter. It is so much fun to spend time with him this way…even when I am tired and grumpy, to see him excited about what will happen next always makes my day! There are so many ways to keep kids in “learning mode” during the summer, whether it’s cooking, gardening, or having kids set up a Kool-Aid stand (math & money management skills)!  Happy Summer!

The Role of an Advocate

 

For me, the past year has given me many different definitions to the answer,

Julie Heil- PHP Outreach Coordinator located in Buffalo

“What is an advocate.” What I found to be most important is that the answer changes depending on who or what you are advocating for. However, the underlying question always remains true, that is, what is the unmet need and how can I help facilitate the solution?

 

Sometimes advocating for families and children involves an emotional reaction; anger, frustration, discontent, fatigue. I have found disconnecting myself from the emotion the hardest part of being an effective advocate. The counselor in me wants to do just that, counsel, however that is not our role.

I have made a list of what I believe to be the most important skills in being an advocate:

 

  1. Be a listener- listen for the details and filter out the emotion
  2. Take notes and be organized. This will assist you in helping the family you are working with to understand the nuances in the paperwork, plan, and conversation.
  3. Understand the laws and systems you are dealing with. Don’t speak up until you KNOW that what you are saying is fact. If you misspeak, then you lose the power you have as an advocate.
  4. Be a strong, assertive communicator.
  5. Build relationships with the people that work in your system. Knowing who to deal with and who your allies are is worth so much.
  6. Be respectful of the client and their needs. Don’t pass judgment and remember everyone needs a hand from time to time.

What we are really doing as advocates is demonstrating to our clients the skills they will need to be more effective the next time the encounter a problem. Remembering this is essential! When teaching by example, we are not rescuing or giving the solution.

Choosing the “Right” Friends

Do you have a child who complains that he doesn’t have friends or a child that picks friends that you don’t approve of?  How can you help them make better choices?

First, understand your child.  We are all different in unique ways.  You can’t make a square peg fit in a round hole.  Some children are quiet and passive while others are active and assertive.

Some suggestions:

1)      Allow your children to choose their own friends.  (They will anyway)

2)      If your child chooses a friend you don’t like, invite that child into your home often and hope that the love and values you practice will be beneficial to him or her.

3)      If you are afraid a friend you don’t approve of will have a negative influence on your child, focus on being a positive influence through a good relationship with your child.

4)      Don’t worry about whether your child has the right number of friends. 

Planning ahead to prevent future problems

1)       Help children who have difficulty making friends by exposing them to many opportunities, such as trips to the park, Scouts or other youth groups.

2)        Go along with your child’s wishes about clothing styles so he won’t be embarrassed about not fitting in.

3)      Make your home a place where kids love to come because they experience unconditional love, safe and respectful rules, and plenty of fun, child-oriented activities.

Children can learn that their parents are their best friends because they love them unconditionally, value their uniqueness, and have faith in them to choose friends that are right for them.

If your child is consistently choosing friends you do not approve of, look at your relationship with your child.  Are you being too controlling, inviting your child to prove you can’t control everything?  Is your child feeling hurt by your criticism and lack of faith in her and trying to hurt back by choosing friends you don’t like?  Have faith in your children and honor who they are.  Try to make the people your children choose as friends welcome at your home, even if they are not the friends you would choose.  Your children may be making decisions about friends based on how you treat your friends.  Are you acting how you would like your children to act?

The Best Teacher Ever….

Julie Heil- PHP Outreach Coordinator located in Buffalo

The best teacher I every had-

That’s an easy one- the best teacher I ever had was my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Ellis. Somehow she knew that I needed a little extra nurturing that year. She invited me to spend a lot of time with her after school, we would clean off the desks, organize the bookshelves, talk about life and friends, movies and books. I had a sick sister, came from a single parent home and really needed the extra attention that Mrs. Ellis gave me.

 I’m sure she was a great teacher in many other ways too.  Because of the huge Wyoming quilt our class made, I canstill remember all the Wyoming counties and their county seats  However, the subjects she taught and how she taught them are not what stayed with me. What stands out the most, is how she made me feel; safe, special and most of all, worthy of her time. I’m sure this experience is what led me want to be a teacher myself. Mrs. Ellis’s influence was one of the greatest gifts. I learned that every child may need a little extra scoop of attention from time to time and that sometimes the smallest kind gesture can make a world of difference.

Cell Phone Nemesis

The world of instant communication has brought us a lot of advantages. We can reach across the whole world in a matter of seconds. It has also brought with it a host of problems. Call me old fashioned but why are six year olds carrying around cell phones? There is a place, a reason, and time for everything and school is not the place, reason, or time for cell phone use. I have heard some of the arguments that the children would be able to dial someone in an emergency.  More times than not, small children freeze during a crisis. There should be a teacher in every class room and monitors in the hall.  If there is an emergency they can call for help. I do believe it would be alright for high school age students to keep them in their lockers, or cars where they could access their phones during lunch time. I cannot see how a student could possibly be learning in class while holding a cell phone on their lap texting. We know it is very dangerous to try and drive while on the cell phone. It is also dangerous for a lot of children that are continually mocked teased and harassed through cell phones. They make an excellent tool for bullies.  I overheard a girl in the hall of the high school who was so upset because she had forgotten her cell phone. I thought she was going to cry.  I could not help but wonder, would she be that upset if she had misplaced a good book she was reading, or a school report?  I would love to see a nationwide ban on cell phone use by students in public schools. What about all of you?

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