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Children, Protect & Educate

When parents send their children for after school programs, sometimes they may take it for granted that the child is happy and safe. But as the number of children participating in these activities has increased, it is therefore necessary to look into safety issues.

Children are vulnerable when they are outside the classes. While going or returning, they should know the safest route to take. Many kids hang out with their friends just after these classes. Find out ‘danger zones’ from your neighbors and make the children aware of these.

The child has to know how to handle emergencies. It is better to discuss
various scenarios with your child. Talk to your children and ensure they know what to do for as many situations that may arise as is possible. For example what your child should do in case the
class is suddenly cancelled. Show your the first aid kit at home and make sure your child knows who to call in an emergency. Post any important contact information in a place that is easily accessible to the child. If your child is to be alone at home (for what ever reason), discuss a few unexpected things with your child. Also take steps to protect your child when at home alone, things like smoke detectors must be installed, peep hols in the front door, security screens and saftey chains and other safety devices, perhaps even an alarm system. Talk to your child about the various safety features within your home and educate your children about how to use the safety features properly and effectively.

Whether at home or out with friends, let your child know who can be contacted at times of emergency. Ask your child to check in by phone and let you know if they do something differently to what they had told you they were going to do. Teach your children to remain in a group where ever possible. Things like going to isolated public toilets alone or going home via isolated streets must be avoided.

There is of course so much more which we need to teach our children in order to help them to remain safe, but as parents we all should be aware of the possible dangers and ensure we talk to our children about those risks and the best ways of avoiding or at least reducing those risk factors.

Protect & Educate Against Bullying

For most parents there does come a time where your child becomes restless, bored, irritable, difficult or just not happy. While there is no one reason for any of these behaviours, there are a number of possible contributing factors. The obvious ones are perhaps your child is having difficulty at school or amongst friends.

Bullying and teasing is a problem which is getting more publicity these days (as it should). Perhaps your child is the subject of bullying. If your child does demonstrate behaviour which is not normal, not right or not the same as usual, it might be a good time to talk to your child in a way which encourages your child to open up about anything that may be happening. Every child is different, but as parents we all should be able to find a way to communicate effectively with our children and to make our children feel 100% at ease to come to us as parents any time there is a problem, a concern, an issue or just the need to talk.

We have all heard of the very sad results of many bullying cases around the world and also here in Australia. Bullying is such a nasty and cruel thing for any child to be subjected to, as parents we need to protect our children from bullying and we need to also educate our children about the effects of bullying so that our children do not become a victim, but also to ensure our children do not become a part of the bullying problem for other children.

If your children is being bullied, you must do everything possible to find the root of the problem, be it at school or be it somewhere else. Once you know where the bullying is occurring you must do something about it. Sometimes this is as simple as talking to your child’s school principle or your child’s teacher or coach. Occasionally this will mean talking to other parents, don’t just talk to the parents of the children who are doing the bullying.. talk to all the parents of your child’s class or school. This can also help as other parents will talk to their children about the bullying and its effects. Children can be very sympathetic to another child who is having a hard (sad) time and your child may find further support and friendship from children he or she had not previously had a great deal to do with.

Once you are aware of a problem with bullying, please don’t just assume that everything is ‘ok’ as your child’s behaviour is normal once again…… sometimes children will learn to pretend things are better and things are fine, yet this may not always be the case.

If your child was the victim of bullying and upon your intervention things have improved then that is great, but if your intervention has not helped to fix the situation then you must look at other options. These may include changing schools, counseling for your child, talking to the school again, talking to more parents or the same parents again or a list of other things.

It is also important that you help give your child other enjoyable activities and things to do. This is aimed at ensuring your child does have several activities and events each week which he or she really does love and enjoy and really looks forward to.

There are many after school type activities which will help improve your child’s level of happiness and social skills as well as improve your child’s self esteem levels. Most after school activities can be broadly classified into three groups, recreational, educational and society oriented. The third group usually comes in when your child is already a bit grown up and can voice their own interests.

Educational activities aim at furthering the knowledge of your child. Your child’s general awareness, understanding and his memory are targeted and he is given various techniques that will assist your child to improve one or all of these. Programs such as intensive memory training and speed mathematics are educational after school activities. There are academic programs that will go over your child’s homework and class work and help your child gain more in depth knowledge in the various subjects. Thus academic programs have a definite edge over the fun and games, especially if parents feel that their child has a lot of catching up to do.

Recreational activities include sports and games, fine arts, painting etc. The main thrust here is to have fun. Of course, classes become more competitive as the child climbs up the ladder. Many sport events, competitions, stage performances etc are held to encourage the child.

When we compare the merits of the two kinds of activities, I believe that the recreational programs have more meat. Firstly, children do not enjoy learning unless they themselves feel curious about something. Most academic programs are standardized courses that are not too flexible. They have a general purpose and a well laid out methodology. After a number of hours at school, the child may feel bored. Further study may overwhelm your child and make them feel frustrated. Burnout is very much a possibility here.

Recreational programs provide a welcome break from the monotony of learning and studies. The mental challenge and the physical exertion make the child feel a renewed zest and a pleasant sense of fulfillment. Group activity teaches social skills, discipline and patience. It is a proven fact that children involved in extra curricular activities get better grades than others. Sometimes closing the textbooks and playing a game may be the best way to handle your studies.

Whatever after school program you choose for your child, regular evaluation is the key to it all. Your child should always have the freedom to reject an activity if and when they feel bored with it. Generally, programs that combine the educational with the recreational are best suited especially for younger children. This way, children can have fun while they learn, which is really what being a child is all about !

ADHD Children, Some Suggestions

After school activity for the hyperactive child

ADHD refers to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Most children who
suffer from this disorder suffer from attention problems as well as hyperactivity. Parents of such children are well aware that inattention and hyperactivity continue throughout the day. Keeping such children busy after school hours can be as difficult as keeping them safe during the school day.

The first step while choosing the right after school activity for your child is to understand how ADHD affects a child. Is your child interested in sports? Is your child put off by the fierce competitiveness, or does your child find it hard to get along with teammates? Does your child vocalize their feelings, or is communication a bit of a problem?

For a child suffering from ADHD, physical exercise is always beneficial. Exercise takes up the extra energy and helps to stimulate the brain. Team activities teach social skills and discipline. But, if your child shies away from team sports, you may want to look at activities like dancing, football, soccer, cricket, netball, cycling, swimming or gymnastics. Martial arts can be a great activity for children who are not so comfortable in a team type of environment, also Martial arts not only teach techniques of self defense but also teach self control, discipline and patience.

If your child shows aversion to sport and shows inclination towards the fine arts, you may need to look at some other options. Acting classes are a wonderful form of creative exercise. It also provides the child with ample opportunity to develop their social skills. Music, art or dance can help the child to keep themselves busy as well as quite entertained.

In case the child is not interested in any of the above, you may encourage your son to join a Boy Scouts club or other community oriented clubs that take up social work, for a daughter, perhaps the girl guides or something similar. Cleaning a park, putting on a show, helping out in an old age home are various activities that may pique your child’s interest.

Whatever form of activity you choose, make sure that you monitor your child’s progress periodically. If you feel that there is no progress, you may need to change the activity. Anything that increases your child’s self esteem is good. You may enlist the help of the coach or teacher to assess your child’s development.

There are certain activities that are detrimental to a child suffering from ADHD. Computer and video games are a definite No No. Since these games need no interaction, children will feel all the more isolated. These children also find it difficult to distinguish between the good and the bad messages. They may therefore show an inclination to stick to messages that are not needed. Games that need the child to sit and wait for his turn patiently tax his patience and will not be a success.

Although you would want these children to be as near to normal as possible, understanding their needs and limits will help you select the right after school activity, one that is fulfilling, tiring as well as challenging.

As a parent it is important that you talk to your child’s teachers and coaches to ensure they are aware of the difficulties your child faces. This will help those role models and educators to understand that your child is willing and wanting to learn and participate, but at times your child can be a little difficult. We need to create an environment for children with ADHD which ensures they are accepted, understood and assisted to develop and prosper as we would hope all children do.

For single parent families or families where both parents are working, if you do hire the services of a nanny or babysitter for your child, please ensure that the childcare provider is aware of your child’s ADHD and discuss how things are going as frequently as possible. This will ensure that your babysitter is not struggling (un beknowns) to yourself, and if your childcare provider is having difficulty you will be able to talk about ways of improving the situation and in the worst case scenario find another babysitter who has more experience with children who can at times be challenging.