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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.

Linking Learning to Home and School

Terri Dawson- PHP of WY, Inc. Executive Director

The first nine weeks are up—-do you know how you can link learning at school to home?

The first 9 weeks of school are over, and parent/teacher conferences have either just occurred, or are happening in the next week or so. So- let’s test the water. How is your child doing? I just estimated how many parent/teacher conferences I have attended in the past 20+ years. Not counting any of my sons’ special education meetings- I have attended approximately 80 parent teacher conferences for my kids. In looking back, I have to say I enjoyed them…..but I had to prepare for them. Maybe not as much as the teacher, but certainly, I had my own list of information to gather.

Here’s what I learned from all those P/T conferences. Many times the teachers want to go over each item and grade—and I usually wasn’t as concerned about that. I typically knew most of that information from the day-to-day questions I asked my kids about their grades. What I always wanted to know was- what were they going to do next? What was the next project for Science? What book would they be reading in English or Lit class? What was the next unit in social studies and what was the target or main point of the lesson? How could I support my child at home- and support the teacher in his/her work in the classroom by discussing the topic with my kids at home? By knowing that, I felt I could help make the learning experience and/or lesson relevant to our day-to-day world.

Most of the time, I had done some pre-visiting or had discussions with my children’s teachers prior to the PT conference- since I always wanted to be prepared and not be surprised about a missed homework assignment or failed test. One of the most important questions before the PT conference was for my kids. I would ask them, “What am I going to hear from your teacher about you? What is your favorite thing about each class or teacher?” This is so I can start the conversation off with a positive comment about what my child likes about them -i.e. “Heather said she loved the project on dinosaurs last week in your class!” It’s a great conversation starter, and shows the teacher that what they have done does matter to the students- and we are paying attention. 

What questions do you like to ask you teachers and/or kids for parent teacher conferences?

Changing Behaviors…

Juanita Bybee- PHP Office Manager

Parents are their child’s first teacher. If we are to expect our children to respect others, we need to show respect to each other as well. Children are like sponges, they observe and mimic especially parents who they look up to and want to emulate. Here are a few helpful hints to think about.

1) Start early – It is easier to start off with the desired behavior.  Research says that it takes 21 times to change an undesired behavior.  7 times a conscience choice, 7 times to reinforce, and 7 times semi-conscience choice to change the undesired behavior.  That seems like a lot of work, it is easier to do it right the first time.

2) Start off small- Make it easy. Use please and thank you’s.  A good foundation will help parents to build upon as your child gets older.

3) Ignore the poor choice and reinforce the good choice. Children love to get compliments; they beam with happiness when they feel like their parent took notice of their behavior. 

4) Practice, practice, practice… Make it a habit over time; model the desired behavior with your child. It is not enough to teach children what NOT to do but what TO do.

5) Give eye contact – be present in the moment. It doesn’t have the same effect if you are not looking at the person.  Take that extra second to make sure that the person knows that you are truly paying attention.

Teaching Children Respect- Just in Time for Back to School

Jennifer Petri- PIC Outreach Parent Liaison- Rock Springs and Green River, WY

Children need to feel respected and to learn to respect other people around them. This is a hard lesson to learn, and some children are more receptive to the message than others. All children are taught the basics of respect at school, but outside of school it’s our responsibility as parents. One thing is for sure: respect is something that can be taught only by example. Our children will not be respectful of other people and other people’s possessions if we do not lead them in the right direction with our own words and actions. 

Teaching respect begins very early in life.  Many children as young as one are old enough to begin to learn not to hit people, and how to softly handle animals.  They can also begin to understand that some things are not for them.  This is not a onetime lesson, but an ongoing way to learn how to live respectfully.  Instead of focusing on our children to teach them respect, we have to focus on our own behavior.  Here are some tips I find useful:

1. Respect your child’s boundaries.  This means that if they don’t want to be touched, keep your hands off.  If they don’t want to play, allow them to mellow out alone.

2. Respect your child’s decisions (within reason).  If your child does not like to play basketball, do not force them to play so you can live vicariously through their play.  Let them choose their own activities based on their personal preferences, once they are old enough.

3. Respect your child’s view of the world.  This means that you might have to slow down and smell the mud pies with them.  This is what childhood is all about.

Learning to be respectful is a lifelong process.  What are some ways you can think of to show your child respect, so they may pass it on?

Sticking to a Schedule

Tammy Wilson- PIC Outreach Parent Liaison, Green River

As a preschool teacher nothing makes me happier then starting another school year. I love routines for myself and the children. They are so important for small children; they do so much better socially and emotionally when kept to a routine. Getting up and going to bed at the same time just makes life for everyone run smoother.

For children that have disabilities such as those with Autism, Asperger’s and ADHD a routine is absolutely essential. It is so important to them to know what is coming next. Swaying from routine is rarely pleasant for small children or those with disabilities.

Sometimes even a visual time line can be helpful for children that crave structure. It can begin with a picture of a child or a picture of the child themselves eating breakfast. The next picture can be the car or the bus to represent going to school. The teacher can then have the time line up somewhere in the room with the picture representing the order in which everything that will take place during the day. The time line should always end with bed time.

There is also the issue of over scheduling children throughout the day and not having enough creative playtime to engage their imagination. I feel routine is important but that does not mean over scheduling children.

Routines and Children

Setting routines and expectations from the beginning leads to success!

This summer all routines went out the window at my house, except two:  nightly reading and going to bed by 9:00 pm.  Now that school is in session, we have to be more disciplined and get our routines in place for a successful year.  Routines are important for keeping kids on track and having structure within a family.  Here are some suggestions for school year daily routines:

  • Set out clothes the night before.  Better yet, younger elementary school children can sleep in their clothes the night before and wake up already dressed.
  • Make a checklist for each child to mark off their own responsibilities before they head out the door.  This eliminates the need to nag.
  • Designate a set time for homework. This guarantees that your child will have an appropriate amount of time to get the work done.
  • Come together as a family daily.  The school year can be hectic, but only as hectic as you make it. Carve out time with the entire family, even if it is just to eat breakfast, so that you can all connect every day

Every family can come up with their own routines that work for them.  What are some routines your families use to keep the day running smoothly?

Summer Will Be Back

 

Janet Kinstetter- PIC Outreach Parent Liaison- Moorcroft

The world is awakened. Sounds of children playing fill the air. Trips are taken. Fireworks light up the night sky. Summer is here! Summer is here for now. At some point it will fade away. It is effortless in going but thankfully easy coming as well. Summer will be back.

Published by Jolie Wicklund

Summer can be a time of “recharging” one’s batteries and doing something completely different than we do at other times of the year. Did you make a “bucket list of things to do after school was out for the summer?  If so, how many things did you do?

Some of my “bucket list” of things to do this summer was:

  • Going swimming
  • Spending time at the library
  • Spending more time with my family
  • Taking everyone on a picnic
  • Going camping with the entire family
  • Volunteering at my local church
  • Keeping in touch with family and friends who live away from me by writing letters instead of sending emails.
  • Going through family pictures and putting them in albums
  • Learning Spanish
  • Going to the movies and eating buttered popcorn!
  • Being thankful and truly appreciative of all the good things in my life
  • Going on vacation, go someplace new that you have always wanted to go.
  • Keep a journal of your summer to look back on and remember all the good times you had with family and friends.
  • Learn to water ski

Did I get everything completed on my bucket list?  No, but there’s always next summer! What were some of the things you wanted to do this summer? What were you able to get completed this summer and what are you putting on your list for next summer?  I hope you all have a great rest of the summer!

Summer Fun!

Amy Skalicky- F2F Outreach in Cheyenne

It’s August, and it seems like school just ended for the summer last week.  Where did the summer go? Perhaps the late winter-like weather delayed that summer-fun feeling. Playing outside later, flip-flops, sunscreen, Saturday night racing, mosquito bites, painted toenails, hiking, fishing, swimming, camping—soon to be replaced by school supplies, teacher meetings, assemblies, earlier bedtimes, earlier rise-and-shine times, check-ups, vaccinations, new clothes, schedules, IEP’s and homework.  

Don’t get me wrong.  My daughter enjoys school and I enjoy that part of the journey with her.  But there is a joyful freedom that comes with summertime, a freedom to enjoy the outdoors more, freedom to play more, and freedom to be who they really are.  I learn the most about Peanut when I am playing badminton with her, picking out the stars and planets on GoogleSky, or just sitting on the front steps watching her fly by with her friends on their scooters.    I am amazed, as I always am, at how much she has changed in the few short months since school ended–taller, more self-sufficient, and more aware.  Summer fun brings summer growth.

Summer is also a good time to regroup and recharge for a fresh start in August.  Many children, my daughter included, develop a before-school anxiety, and this is a good time to reassure them and plan for the successful start of the next grade.  Teachers are busy with their own preparations for school, but a quick meet-the-teacher before that first day could alleviate some apprehension and allow any special needs to be discussed before the first-day rush.  EpiPens, medications, diabetes supplies and what-you-need-to-know-about-my-child information for the school should be ready before school starts.   Starting now on a little earlier bedtime and earlier waking time can make the first day a bit easier as well.   In addition, it is a good time to set up the homework area, making sure it is stocked with needed items—pencils, crayons, laptop, paper, books, glue, and favorite snack food. 

The bathing suits, camping supplies and sandbox toys are on clearance, making way for the crayons, notebooks and locker accessories that have already invaded store shelves.  School registration information, supply lists and open house schedules once again adorn my refrigerator, and my daughter giggles that this year she and I both have homework, so we should do it together. I am then informed that I cannot go outside to play until it’s done.  Thanks, Peanut.  Glad you’ve been listening.

But I am not letting go of summer just yet.  There is plenty yet to do and time left to do it.  Perhaps it’s time for a new end-of-summer ritual.   This year my daughter has some things she wants to put into a summer scrapbook.   As for me, I am going cling to the warm sunshine, sidewalk chalk, giggling kids in my yard and muddy prints tiptoeing through my kitchen.

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.

You Can’t Choose Their Friends

Juanita Bybee- PHP Office Manager

I have an 8 year old girl who is going into the 3rd grade this year. We have had several conversations about her peers at school. She struggles like all children with friendships at school and the occasional argument that comes up. She also has a cousin, close to her age that she plays with regularly and seems to be in competition with at all times. 

To be honest I have never thought about choosing her friends. I occasionally go to school and sit with her at lunch to see how she interacts with her peers and observe the other children in her class. I did ask her teacher how she gets along with others and if there was any peers that she struggles more with.  She seemed to be chatty with one particular classmate. It got to the point that I had to talk with her about that the number one reason that she is at school is the get an education and that friendships are second to that. Her teacher decided to move them apart and put them in opposite corners of the room so they could concentrate better and pay attention to the lesson instead of talking. 

I don’t want to choose her friends. I have to admit that when I was younger, I did the opposite of what I was told (shocker right), so I figure that the most important thing for me is that she has fulfilling friendships that are healthy. Children are in constant development and are learning at every turn.  I want to make sure that if there is an issue such as bullying or teasing that my child feels that she can come to me and talk.  Kids can be cruel and feeling can easily be hurt. I want to be there for her to try to talk through any problems such as nobody wants to play with me or about why someone has treated her in such a way. The teacher might not always have time to help her through those times and I want to know what is going on with my child. This will always be an ongoing issue.

 I think that healthy self- esteem and the ability to stand up for herself are important in the way she interacts with others. If she is confident with herself, then she can feel comfortable articulating her needs to others and can ask for help if needed.

I think that it is important to keep in touch with her teacher as well.  Her teacher observes her interactions with her peers and can tell if there is an issue that might need extra attention. Parents shouldn’t wait until Parent-Teacher conferences to come around to have a conversation with their child’s teacher or visa- versa. I want to keep the line of communication open with my child’s teacher. I like to hear the good because there is always plenty of the bad.

The best thing that I can do as a parent is to be involved in my child’s life. My child needs to know that she is the most important thing to me and we can work together to overcome anything!

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