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Greetings and salutations!
In our house we are trying to start the year off positively on many levels including morning salutations, words of encouragement and an agreed upon drop-off mantra.
For our family, the start of waking up right is figuring out a good evening routine. Since the boys spend their weeks divided between two households, a consistent evening routine is only as good as the adults can make it. Most weeks it is successful. Some weeks nothing works. Both boys may fuss about going to bed by 8 (7 if we have had an event filled day!) But they secretly crave a consistent schedule and a good night’s sleep.
When the boys get a minimum of 10 hours of sleep they wake up happy (mostly) and ready to tackle the day. Our morning salutations are filled with laughter, cuddles and even song. Even our grumpy morning munchkin wakes up smiling and joking when he is well rested.
How one wakes up in our house does generally set the tone for the day. A grumpy morning tends to make for heel dragging and tardiness. Happy mornings means most of the time we are ready to leave the house ten minutes before my warning bell goes off.
Our morning routine is a bit atypical in the realm that it does not resemble the morning routine of my childhood. I let the kids watch a half hour of TV while they wake up and slowly collect their thoughts. Breakfast fits in somewhere between collecting thoughts and getting dressed. Then comes personal hygiene, grooming, socks, shoes and double checking we aren’t missing lunches or folders.
The first week of the routine was the hardest and took the longest. Now after two weeks we are all getting into the routine so morning roundup takes a little over an hour instead of almost two.
The next step is loading into the car. First the boys get wished a good day by Grammie and are given hugs. As we walk to the car we talk about things to remember and words of encouragement for the day. Once all loaded up and headed for school we talk about another kind of morning salutation, our newest addition to our routine- the drop-off mantra.
When I was a child, my morning parting salutation, with my mom, was:
A’s and B’s, no C’s, D’s, or F’s.
My mom wanted to focus on our education. She felt that our education was paramount and that if we stayed focused we could achieve anything.
As an adult I get what she meant but I also have to wonder about children learning that there is a balance between work and play. That adults, and kids, with very little balance in one direction or another end up unhappy in one or more aspects of their life. There have been points in my life where I myself have felt this imbalance and have been unhappy.
I want to help children in my life try to achieve some balance. Respectively I also wanted our morning drop-off mantra to be more than about education. I felt that it needed to be both uplifting and about the balance in life that I would like to help them achieve.
With odd phase in days for both boys, our second week of school didn’t start until last Wednesday. This also happened to be our second day of school. Between all the first day of school jitters and making sure we took pictures, we had forgotten to decide on a drop-off mantra.
On our way to school, on our oddly timed second day we talked about what our mantra should be. We wanted to make sure kindness was mentioned and that we use only good words (no bullying or name calling). In the end we chose to borrow the morning mantra a friend uses with her kids:
Kind hands means no pushing, shoving or hitting. It is important to use our hands for positive actions like raising them to ask questions or lending a helping hand to someone in need.
Kind hearts is about being more than kind. It is thinking about our actions in relation to others and their feelings. Being mindful of our actions includes watching out for those around. It is also about being open to new experiences and ideas.
Kind words is being mindful of our words before they leave our mouths. To think before we speak because all actions, even the words we use.
Put it all together and it is a twist on the parable about treating others as you would want yourself to be treated.
There are a lot of various ideas and thoughts on early childhood education. This includes what age to start teaching various things like shapes and colors or numbers and the alphabet. One concept I have tried to latch onto is teaching respect and kindness. All of this is reflected in our morning mantra, our departing salutation.
Update: while we still have yet to have a full week of school, our mantra is sticking. We talk about kindness and respect. Some days they get the concept just fine and worry about others. Then there are the days where they worry about a stranger but hit their sibling on the head with a lego. We still have a long way to go but I think we are on a good path for now.