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Archive for January, 2011


Posted on: January 26th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Being inside doesn’t mean the kids have to sit in front of the TV or computer, there are plenty of ways to stay active!

1. Dance around the living room to your favorite music
This is a great way to bond with your kids, especially if you share taste in music. Getting silly together will make them feel closer to you and will burn some calories.

2. Board games
Don’t underestimate the age-old classics like Monopoly, Life and Scrabble. These are a great way for the whole family to have some down time and often can come with great lessons about money and spelling.

3. Do household organization projects as a family
Spring-cleaning is a pain in the neck! But if you get the whole family together to do a project it will ensure that you spend time together and will allow you to get things done much quicker. Make it a game and make it fun. Use a reward system where if everyone helps out then you will go out for ice cream or spend an hour doing something fun.

4. Watch movies
Kids love movies, but they don’t want to sit in front of a TV by themselves. Watching movies as a family, maybe with some popcorn, is a great way to bond. Plus, you can interact with them and mediate the movie content. Remember, every moment is an opportunity to talk about tough issues.

5. Read together
Encouraging your kids to read is important but doing it together can make it much more fun. Plus, when you read together you can help them read things that are more advanced and work on expanding their vocabulary.

6. Cook/Bake together
Make cookies or homemade pizza, this will be fun and delicious for the whole family and can encourage your child’s creativity.

7. Oldies but goodies
Never forget the classics like hide and seek and charades that can allow you to pass the time when the weather is too cold to run around outside.

8. Creative Projects
Have your kids create works of art by drawing their own pictures, or creating their own short stories. This will allow them to express themselves and work on their skills, whatever their interests may be.


Posted on: January 23rd, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

As adults squeezing a simple exercise routine into our busy schedule can seem like more of an added chore than a reward.

Luckily for kids being fit is about staying active. Tying shoes can increase flexibility, an hour spent playing in the jungle gym helps build muscles and a friendly game of tag gets their cardio in for the day!

It’s easy to turn every-day activities into fun fitness routines for kids. Below are just a few quicky ways you can add to your family itinerary to keep your kids a bit more active.

1. Get them involved in yard work: make it fun! Have the kids race to see who finishes first.

2. Family dog: Take your kids and the dog for a long walk, or a trip to the park to play Frisbee.

3. Sign your kids up for after school activities: karate, soccer, baseball, tennis, etc.

4. Family bike ride

What ways can you incorporate activity into your busy schedule?


Posted on: January 22nd, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

WHO:  Angela Ardolino, parenting expert and editorial director of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine and Shawna Vercher, host of The Shawna Vercher Show and president of the Society of Successful Women.
WHAT:  Live radio interview with Angela Ardolino hosted by Shawna Vercher. Listeners are free to call in and join the discussion!
WHEN:  Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 3:00 p.m.
               (Toll free) Call-in phone number: 866-977-4820
Angela and Shawna will be focusing on current parenting and family topics and trends. This live show is an open forum for parents and the community to come together, share their thoughts and contribute to an educational and entertaining discussion involving our children in today’s world.


Posted on: January 19th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

1.    All for One and One for All

a.    Everyday activities can be family activities—get the kids involved in cooking dinner, organizing their rooms, taking care of pets, grocery shopping, etc.

b.    Is there anything you do for your child that they could do for themselves? Let them do it! It will save you time and allow them to build a sense of responsibility and independence. Older children can accomplish things as a part of their chores.

2.    Write it Down

a.    Determine what needs to be done right away and what can be put off and put it on a separate list

b.    Checking things off as you go along will make you feel accomplished.

c.    Split tasks between you and your spouse

d.    Decide on a weekly dinner menu

3.    Plan Ahead

a.    Pick out clothes for yourself and the children, pack lunches, iron your outfit for the next day and get your things together in order to make mornings more efficient.

4.    Invest in a Planner or Agenda for the Whole Family

a.    Schedule appointments, meetings and important reminders. You can use a different color for each category (work vs. personal)

b.    Sit down as a family and have your kids fill out their own agendas. You can also have everyone write in each other’s schedules for ballet and soccer practice, etc.

5.    Don’t forget time for you!

a.    Schedule time for yourself every day. Whether it’s an hour-long work-out or 15 minutes before you go to sleep to read the book of your choice.

Angela’s Teachable Moment:  Involving your children in chores and teaching them how to do them will make them feel like a contributor to the household team!

Click here for the ABC Action News story.


Posted on: January 17th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

An enjoyable way for kids to learn more about being eco-friendly is by joining fun environmental websites like the Environmental Kids Club. Children are able to engage in fun activities including videos and games while learning about our environment. This particular website provides a “Daily Environmental Tip” that our children can pass along to us, as well as a “Daily Action” link that encourage kids to get involved in their local community and help the environment.

Here are a few other neat environmental websites for kids:

The Kids for Saving Earth

Environmental Education for Kids

Kids for a Clean Environment

Let us know if you have any other fun ways to encourage kids to be eco-friendly!


Posted on: January 13th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

According to a Pew Internet Study, 99% of boys and 94% of girls play video games. So, clearly video games are a pervasive part of children’s lives. In a 2003 study of 1000 students by Purdue University, they found that eighth grade boys spend an average of 23 hours per week playing video games.

Since virtual life looks like it’s here to stay, we can dictate the role it plays in our lives and how it is incorporated into the family.

 1.   Play as a Family.

a.   Playing with your children allows you to experience the video game’s content first-hand and will create talking points between you and your child.

b.   Don’t allow them to play with online strangers; it is an opportunity for dangerous situations.

2.   Be a role model.

a.   The kids who grew up with early video games are now parents and still enjoy gaming. Remember, however, that anything you play, they will want to play, so be sure to set the example.

3.   Playing is a privilege.

a.   Be sure that kids are completing homework and doing well in school before being allowed to play.

b.   Limit the amount of time your children spend playing games.

c.   Do not install game systems in your child’s bedroom.

4.   Choose games with educational or creative value.

a.   Games can serve to help kids learn to spell, read, learn math and teach coordination so pick programs that serve a purpose rather than just serve as a babysitter.

Angela’s Teachable Moment: Letting your kids teach you how to play a game gives them the opportunity to be the teacher and will empower them and make them feel important.


Posted on: January 11th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Beautiful, smart, popular. Most people wouldn’t mind those words associated with themselves. How about slow, goofy, not the sharpest tool in the shed? These labels score low on the ‘pick me’ list.

Carolyn Sandlin Sniffen, a classroom teacher with a master’s degree and twenty-five years of teaching experience is our guest writer today, who shares her thoughts on labels and how they hold kids back.

The Cute One…The Smart One…The Joker: How Labels Hold Kids Back

The writing assignment for my 6th graders was easy: What one thing would you like for me to know about you?

Small shoulders shrugged, eyes rolled, and within minutes I was listening to the rhythmic scratching of Number Two pencils on notebook paper.

Their responses varied from silly to serious, but the real lesson learned that day didn’t include capitalization, punctuation, or subject-verb agreement. It was a lesson in the dangers of labeling kids—a lesson for every parent and caregiver who care about children and their futures.

Sorting through piles of papers, I read the following:

Kids acquire their labels early, often at birth. Parents look at their new offspring and exclaim,  “She looks just like your sister. I sure hope she’s got more sense.” Or, “Listen to him cry. He already has a bad temper.” Or, “Look at those ears. The only person in our family with those ears is your crazy Uncle Felix.”

Using labels helps parents personify their babies, giving them a unique identity. If there are other children in the family, it’s almost impossible not to label them, too. The oldest child is often described as responsible, mature, a role model. The middle child struggles to be noticed, usually becoming the joker, the entertainer, the funny one. And the baby uses his position to get his own way or to tattle on his siblings.

When children start school, the labeling continues. Parents start comparing them to other children: “He must be a slow learner because he still can’t read.” Or, she’s so shy—she’ll never have any friends.”

The problem with labels is they hold children back. When kids believe their labels—“I can’t help it. That’s the way I am.”—they eventually become what others say about them.

What about positive labels? They build a child’s self-esteem. Right? Only for a short time, maybe, but consider this situation: Your youngster has finally made the honor roll. You say: “You’re so smart, a real brain.” Behind this positive label is a subtle but intense pressure to “keep it up so I’ll be proud of you.” A few low test scores, and in your child’s mind she has lost her brilliant status.

A label from a classroom teacher can be a powerful influence on a child, and teacher-generated labels quickly spread in a classroom—sometimes throughout the entire school. Children may be singled out as smart, dumb, noisy, slow: “His older brother was a real trouble-maker. I bet this one’s the same.” Or, “Nobody in her family ever finished school. She probably won’t graduate either.”

There are even more damaging labels used by teachers, often with good intentions: ADD, emotionally disturbed, learning impaired, socially maladjusted, etc. Sometimes teachers attempt to diagnose a child on the basis of problems exhibited in a classroom setting. Parents should certainly listen to teachers’ concerns, but schedule an evaluation by a pediatrician or a child psychologist before making assumptions.

If your youngster is being labeled by a teacher, arrange a meeting to discuss what behaviors are interfering with your child’s academic or social success. Ask the teacher for appropriate interventions that you can try at home.

Even if parents and teachers are careful not to label kids, once they enter school, they’re likely to hear it from other kids.  Nerd, geek, jerk, crybaby, poser—all are cruel taunts heard on playgrounds and in hallways. When immature children can’t deal with the differences between themselves and others, they often resort to name-calling. A parent’s best response is to teach their children to be more understanding and accepting of other people.

If your child is the one being labeled, talk about why kids are calling her names and how to keep it from getting to her: “When the kids call you a nerd, tell them Bill Gates was also called a nerd, and he grew up to become one of the richest men in America.”

If we can convince children they are multi-faceted human beings, with many character traits, talents, and abilities, we have learned the most valuable lesson in building their self-esteem.

Article submitted by Carolyn Sandlin Sniffen. Carolyn currently writes for Associated Content from Yahoo, informing parents about the latest research in education and current trends in parenting strategies. She also had a weekly column: Making the Grade for the St. Petersburg Times from 1998- 2001.


Posted on: January 10th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

There is a certain skill that goes into preparing a family trip to the movies, especially if there is a toddler in your clan. If you’re a parent and you’ve attempted this feat without the proper preparation you know first-hand it can be disastrous! The key is to prepare a comfortable environment and be sure to bring a ‘baby back-up backpack’ stocked with toys, food and anything they may need throughout the movie. Below are a few tips and essentials to plan your trip:

1.       Timing is everything: Be sure to choose a movie time that coincides with your child’s calmest point of the day (of there is one). Think an hour or two before bed/nap time.

2.       Full Belly: Kids should have already had their lunch or dinner before the movie. Food in the back-up backpack should be small snacks not a full meal.

3.       Location, location, location: Aisle seat is a must! Just in case you have to make a quick getaway to the bathroom or leave the movies.

4.       Bring a Blankie: You want your kids to feel comfortable. This means bringing their favorite toys and of course, their blankie.

Any other tips and tricks for a memorable movie trip? Please share!


Posted on: January 6th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

1. Make a list of what’s important to you:

Think about school size

•     Consider the personality of your child.. a shy child may thrive better in a smaller school, while a more outgoing child may do better in a larger environment

•     The size of the school will affect how much attention each student gets; consider how independent the child is, if they have always been a hard-working student they may not need the extra push of a small environment and instead will benefit from a large setting where they can interact with a greater variety of students.

•     However, there is power in a small school, the child cannot be anonymous and therefore teachers and adults socialize them and deter the pressures of peers

Think about what types of programs are important for your child: advanced academics or arts programs?

•     Does your child excel in science or theater? This will help you determine what sort of specialized curriculum you may want in a school.

Public or private school?

•     There is something to be said for public schools, they have a much harder job to do they have to be all things for all people.

•     Private schools, however, have much more financial aid to provide and they can fill a specific need.

2. Consider Family Values:

Focus on the Four Key Points that will truly make a difference and will help you to determine which institution is right for your child and your family.

Curriculum: How greatly do you want your child to be challenged academically? What kinds of values will they also be learning? What are the schools policies, dress codes

Learning Style: These are aspects of your family that affect how a school should teach and interact with your child both in and outside of the classroom. These include your family’s values about how children should behave at school, and how children should learn and be taught at school (teaching method and classroom management).

Social Environment: What types of students typically attend? Is it a group of hand-picked academically competitive students or is there a mixture in achievement levels? How do the teachers interact with students and parents? Is there parent involvement? What are the involved parents’ values and ethical standards?

 Everyday Needs: What can you pay? Do you need aftercare services? Would you like a school that offers tutoring services? Is there a certain location you prefer or do you need to have bus services?

3. Match them Up!

•     Figure out which of the institutions meets the desires on your list and is also in line with the values of your family. This will allow you to make a thorough decision that is truly a good fit.