5 Ideas for Bonding With Your Family These Holidays

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town

There may be a chill in the air, but don’t let it slow you down. Bundle up, and spend an afternoon exploring with your girl. Head off to a destination that you’ve always wanted to check out, or take her to one of your own favorite spots that she hasn’t seen yet.

 

Twelve Days of Giving

Make others’ lives merry and bright during the 12 days of Christmas, beginning December 25 and ending January 5. Stuff decorated shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, and personal-care products for disadvantaged children. Ladle up nutrition at a soup kitchen or surprise your elderly neighbor with a homemade meal or treat!

 

Explore New Cultural Traditions

Broaden your family’s cultural awareness and spice up your typical holiday celebration by introducing traditions from around the world this year. Learn how to say “happy holidays” and sing carols in various language or try new recipes for holiday delicacies from various parts of the world.  

 

Bond Over Cookies

Whip up holiday cheer by gathering to bake and decorate cookies. Assign youngsters manageable tasks such as pouring pre-measured ingredients, stirring, and making shapes with cookie cutters. Older kids can measure wet and dry ingredients, crack eggs, and roll out the dough. Allow imaginations to soar when it comes to decorating these masterpieces. Share the baked goods with friends, family, and neighbors, and make a sweet gift

 

Enjoy the Big Screen at Home

After the craziness leading up to the holiday season, the best treat may be some much needed R&R at home. Organize a movie date complete with popcorn, drinks and cozy socks and let your little chick pick the flick.

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The Importance of the Village in Raising Your Child: 5 Key Relationships in Your Support System That You Have Little Control Over & How to Engage

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When you think about your support system for parenting, relatives and close friends likely come to mind. While you get to chose who you trust, there are five types of people who you often don’t get to choose but have great influence on your children.

Here are some ways to engage with these individuals to make sure the resulting relationships are safe and productive for your child (ren).

The Step Mom/Step Dad

If your family unit involves a step parent, it’s very important that you foster a good relationship between them and your child regardless of what the circumstances are! While you do not get to choose this person, you can choose what type of relationship you will have with them. As they are a key player in your village, it is necessary to ensure that it is a positive relationship for your child’s sake. You should share things that you deem as foundational for raising your child and understand their philosophies e.g. parenting philosophies, their approach to discipline, how they handle conflict etc. It’s a good idea to discuss expectations and boundaries and how you will work collectively as a team to ensure success of your child.

The Second Mom

The role of the second mom will most likely be filled by your best friends or close friends that have been around to see your child grow from little infant to a little lady. These kinds of relationships are important and it is necessary for you to facilitate them and give them an opportunity to blossom with good boundaries in place. They can prove to be especially important during those tense teenage years, as they’ll provide an outlet for your child in instances where she may need adult guidance but may not feel comfortable discussing with you.

Your Child’s Teachers

Your child’s classroom teacher as well as the instructors for extracurricular activities that your child is involved in, are very influential in the development of your child.

In order for you to get the best out of your relationship with your child’s teachers and instructors, you truly have to engage. Get to know every single teacher that your child has. Keep an open line of communication. Talk to them regularly, set up arrangements with them to give you feedback, and make them feel comfortable to come tell you when there is an issue with your child.

Be mindful of your attitude when receiving negative feedback on your child. If you put up a defensive front or often assume your child is right, they might start to keep communication with you minimal. This does not help you or your child. Ensure you have a good understanding of the issue and do your best to be proactive in working through them. Embrace the role of the teachers and instructors in supporting your efforts to help your child succeed.

The Parents of your Child’s Friends

The parents of each child that your kids interact with, especially those children with whom your child forms close relationships with, are a big part of your village. These are children that will entertain, inspire, motivate and demotivate your child. As such it’s important for you to understand what type of homes they come from and what their background and morals are like. You should make a good effort to form a cordial relationship with their parents so that all of you can band together and create the best environment for your children.

Your Child’s Mentors

Mentors are definitely in your village and they are found everywhere. Sometimes you’re not even aware that they’re in your village because these relationships can happen without your knowledge. Many times they are based on connections over interests that your child has with someone else that is more experienced.

It is important that you stay aware of mentoring relationships and that you make sure that they are healthy for your child and that your child is using them in the right ways. You also want to make sure that the adult that is involved has good intentions.

A Word about Safety

With every single person in your village, whether they’re family or not, you want to always make sure that your child’s safety is of the utmost priority. Trust your instincts about people and their motives. Make sure that you are present whenever your child is having a meeting with these adults, especially if it’s in an unfamiliar environment or if the relationship is new and still budding.

Lastly, There’s no doubt that you need a village to support your child. In fact, you should embrace that support. However, for your child’s sake be the mayor of the village and make sure that you are aware of every important relationship in your child’s life and that you keep them healthy.

 

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Why your daughter would love to go to a maker faire!

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We are lucky enough in Charlotte to have a Children’s science museum in town. One of our visits a few weeks ago, I noticed a flier for the very first mini-maker faire in Charlotte. I knew the term Makers but had not heard about the faires so I made a mental note to bring my curious daughter to the event. My initial thought was that it was a convention of DIY-ers in the technology and engineering space. However, while it is some of that, I was blown away by how diverse and rich the experience was around innovations in arts, sciences and technology. It was like a giant and fun science fair. Where else do you get to touch and feel a 3D printed car?? Yep, you read that right. A whole car made of components printed from a 3D printer.

At a typical Maker Faire, makers of every kind – whether in technology, crafts, engineering, science, education, writing or visual arts – gather to share the beauty of their own creative genius and to network with fellow creatives. The air is bustling with excitement and brimming with possibility. You’ll easily be able to see its effect in your daughter’s eyes as she soaks it all in through conversations, projects, and experiments. There are numerous opportunities for interaction such as engaging with a scientist through question and answer, sitting in on an explanation of how a robot works before making a simple robot of her own, or taking part in a workshop about making homemade butter. These events are meant to be hands-on, so encourage your daughter to dig in!

 

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A little history …

Maker Media, the publisher of MAKE magazine since 2005, is responsible for the genesis of the Maker Faire. The first Maker Faire began in San Mateo, California, one year after the magazine was published, and has since reached worldwide influence with nearly 150 Featured and Mini Maker Faires around the world and thousands upon thousands of makers and visitors in attendance. Fifty percent of the attendees come with their children, as these events are intended to suit all ages, but because Maker Faires can be a bit overwhelming (we’re talking 75,000 people in one location), it’s always a good idea to introduce your daughter to these types of events by first taking her to a Mini Maker Faire.

 

Does your city have a mini faire?

Mini Maker Faires are the local versions of the Maker Faire. They are put on by the community for the community, and have a totally different flavor than the national Maker Faire. Each community naturally creates its own essence – maybe the culture of the city is modern and technology oriented or maybe it’s more focused on reinventing old world techniques – those aspects of the community are fully embodied in the spirit of each Mini Maker Faire. Participating in an event of this size is a wonderful opportunity for you to introduce your daughter to people within your own sphere that can inspire her in her own creativity. You may even connect with organizations that host programs in your city that you never knew existed or find a personal mentor for your daughter in her particular field of interest. It could also be a great opportunity for your daughter to find something new she’d be interested in pursuing. The Maker Faire’s website keeps an updated schedule of all the mini fairies nationally.

 

When you decide to visit a faire, here are 3 Tips for having a successful visit to your 1st Faire:

 Look ahead at the schedule and pick out the workshops or exhibitions you don’t want to miss. Plan your visit around those events because many of them will have timed sessions for their demonstrations. Also, this will allow you to pick activities that are great fit for your child’s age and interests.

Bring some cash: Many vendors will be selling some of their unique handmade wares and its not uncommon to find that they are not prepared to accept other forms of payment outside of cash. My daughter and I were both bummed after we tasted some delicious honey but needed cash to buy it.

Explore boldly: Do your best to add some activities into the mix that your child has had no exposure to. This, after all, is the point of the faire. On our way home, I asked my daughter what her favorite experience at the faire was and to my surprise, my then almost 4 year old daughter LOVED the Oculus Rift virtual reality experience! This is not something I expected to be memorable for her at all.

That’s it. All that’s left to do is for you to look up your city, plan a visit, and tell us all about it when you do!

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Top 7 Mom Questions About STEM Learning Answered

Parents have a huge part to play in creating an environment that fosters STEM learning. However it is incredibly difficult to do so if you are not familiar with STEM or not comfortable with STEM subjects. The following Q&A is a primer on the most important things you need to know about STEM.

  1. What is STEM and why the emphasis on girls?
  2. STEM vs. STEAM, what is the difference?
  3. Why does STEM learning matter at all?
  4. How early should I start introducing STEM?
  5. What does it mean for a school to be a STEM school?
  6. What do I do if my child’s school doesn’t have a strong STEM program?
  7. What if I don’t have a STEM background?

     

    1. What is STEM and why the emphasis on girls?

    The word STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. At its very core, STEM is about your child’s ability to make meaningful connections between school, community and global issues. While these are not new areas of learning, the idea of STEM is that those four disciplines are integrated into a cohesive curriculum based on real world application.

    Remember when you used to ask yourself in high school, how much of all this stuff am I really going to use in the real world? Well, when STEM is taught effectively, it eliminates the need for that internal debate. Learning should come alive, be interactive, relevant, and meaningful and ultimately lead to very productive and rewarding careers in Engineering, Physical and Life Sciences, Technology and beyond.

    Teach.com-STEM-Infographic (2)
    Teach.com STEM infographic

     

    With STEM jobs growing at a faster pace than non-STEM jobs, stereotypes that math is boring or that engineering is a “boy” thing are hurting our smart girls. Contrary to the widely accepted social bias that boys are more naturally capable of succeeding in math and science, Research has shown that there is actually no difference in ability between both genders when it comes to math and science. However, girls are more prone to doubt their ability in STEM subjects while boys believe they can learn and improve.

    The most effective opportunities to make girls confident about STEM revolve around environmental factors such as the level of exposure to STEM concepts, mentorship and hands on project experiences. These are thankfully areas where parents can contribute strongly.

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Just When You Thought The Barbie Brand Was Out of Touch …

… they come up with this commercial.

This makes them a little less out of touch.

It is a good start to the kinds of conversations an established brand like Barbie should be leading so I hope Mattel builds on this and takes it even further.

It is not enough to tell girls that the possibilities are endless.  The reality is that there are many girls who will not be able to internalize this message for various reasons. Many have been conditioned to dream inside the box of their immediate environment. Its takes a whole lot more than clever messaging to fix that.

It takes you and the village around her.

This is why we created this platform.

Stay connected as we build.

 

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Hello Smart Mommy!

I AM RAISINGA SMART GIRL

It is almost inevitable.

You tell someone you are having a girl, and they immediately respond with either: “Oh boy, get ready ..  Girls are trouble! OR girls are so cute, you will have so much fun dressing them up as dolls”. Its kinda confusing, really.

However, lets face it; besides the pretty bows, tutu skirts and fancy shoes, raising girls comes with its own unique set of challenges.  Way before puberty hits and boys stop being “yucky”, there is the smart mouth, clothes and makeup and the super sensitive tween emotions.

Uto and I are best friends and have 4 girls between us and actively act as co-parents to our kids. We are constantly sharing information on parenting resources as we ultimately want to be able to confidently answer these questions of the time they were under our care:

Did we raise head smart girls, that are well prepared to make the right choices and thrive in our global rapidly evolving world?

Did we raise heart smart girls, that understand their true self worth and guard their hearts when it comes to love of both themselves and others?

We created this platform to extend the  support that we desire for ourselves on this journey of parenting and most of all, to foster a community with you, our fellow smart mommy.

So from now on, we are in this together; Our girls will glow!

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