Parents are the Most Important Teachers

Parents: The Most Important Teachers

… parents are a child’s most important teacher and home is the most important classroom.

There is nothing quite so magical as watching toddlers explore their world.

There are times when it almost seems that we can hear their brains whirring as they learn new things, they investigate their environment, and they seek to understand the world around them.

And yet, as magical as this is, one thing is certain: there are no magic answers to making it happen. There is only the magic of doing an awful lot of things right – as parents, as caregivers, as educators, and as a community.

It is then that we see the magic that comes in creating children whose cognitive development prepares them for what lies ahead in their lives. That’s why it is crucial that however we contribute to a child’s upbringing, we should begin with a seminal fact: there is no single button to push that ensures the healthy development of a child and there is no panacea that unlocks a bright future for every child. Rather, there is only the dedicated work every day of being a loving, nurturing parent and city.

We’ve been thinking about this lately because early childhood development seems to be on everyone’s radar at the local, state, and federal levels. As sometimes happens, rhetoric outruns reality and magical thinking overruns the research on early childhood development, so as you hear more, remember, it takes a latticework of things to develop children to their fullest.

For example, Pre-K matters and the more Memphis children who attend the better. It is inarguable that what is needed in our community is not a high-performing K-12 educational system, but a Pre-K-12 educational system. Now, children are five and six years old when they enter the classroom, but by then, their brains have grown to 80 percent of their adult sizes and events, experiences, and environment have already produced vital learning for them – both positive and negative.

In the past, Pre-K has been seen as an educational luxury but fortunately, it is more and more being seen as a necessity if we want to close the achievement gap and give every child a fair start in life. And yet, it is unrealistic to expect that our schools and our teachers should bear the brunt of the responsibility for the development of our children.

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March Break Ideas

March Break ideas

By Sharon Brooks – Kids Can Fly

“Having your children home full time for the March Break can be challenging as well as a wonderful opportunity for family time and learning.  Those who were not so fortunate to head to the sunny south of ski slopes might need some ideas of how to best fill the days.

  • Kids are excited to have a school holiday but this can quickly turn to boredom.  Child psychologist Jennifer Kolaris, author of Connected Parenting, says that a little boredom is a healthy thing for child development.  “We spend too much time as parent’s trying to organize every minute of a child’s day and they need to develop those skills on their own.  Don’t be afraid to say “Go find something to do.”  CAUTION- this should not be an open license to spend time with electronic devices.  Rules around the amount of time allowed on these need to be reinforced!
  • Stick to routines as much as possible.  Younger children especially do best when they follow known routines around meals, sleeping and activities.  Staying up a bit later watching a movie is ok for your 10+ but younger kids will get cranky and this could ruin the following day. 
  • See what is going on in the community.  The library will be holding special events and going swimming, hiking, to a movie, etc can be a focus for one or two days,
  • Do a Child Swap.  Arrange with another family to take their children for one day and then they can take yours.  The kids will have fun playing and you each get a break!
  • Involve the kids in making plans.  Everyone can write down some suggestions of things they want to do like shopping for new sneakers, going out to lunch, swimming or seeing a favourite movie and then try to include one of each child’s suggestions.
  • If the children are in day programs because you are working, don’t feel guilty.  They will be having fun and you can organize a family game or movie night, make pizzas or cookies together in the early evening.  If they have to get up for day camp – remember they still need to go to bed at a reasonable time.
  • Take some time to clear out the toy cupboard and you will find some things that have been neglected or outgrown. The kids will often be excited to play again with these and then might be willing to donate them to other kids or drop them off at Value Village, thus helping reduce clutter!  : ).  “



Homework Help Tips for Parents


Homework time can easily become stressful for many parents and children. has created a Top 10 Homework Tips article that offers simple ideas to keep homework time effective.

Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.

Of course, helping with homework shouldn’t mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!

Here are some tips to guide the way:

  1. Know the teachersand what they’re looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child’s teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
  2. Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
  3. Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
  4. Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there’s an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
  5. Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)

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Kids Craft Ideas for Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is a fun time for kids to create crafts! There are many natural elements that can be combined to make a great holiday masterpiece.  Some of these ideas are also helpful when the entire family is getting together and you’re looking to entertain the little ones.

Here are some fun ideas:


Pipe Cleaner Turkey



Thanksgiving is a busy time of year and you can keep small hands and active minds occupied with this pipe cleaner turkey craft. Kids can assemble these quickly and they make great place settings.

What you’ll need:

  • Wire cutters
  • 1 red bumpy pipe cleaner (chenille stem)
  • 1 orange bumpy pipe cleaner
  • 1 brown bumpy pipe cleaner
  • 1 yellow bumpy pipe cleaner
  • 2 tan pipe cleaners (bumpy would look cute)
  • Glue
  • 2 (5-6 mm) wiggle eyes
  • 2 ounce paint bottle (any color)

How to make it:

Note: Any pipe cleaner “bumps” leftover after cutting can be used in future projects.

  1. Cut the brown bumpy pipe cleaner into two pieces, so that both pieces have two bumps each.
  2. Cut the pipe cleaner stem into two pieces, so that one piece has just one bump and the second piece has two bumps.
  3. Cut the pipe cleaner stem into two bumps.
  4. Cut the yellow pipe cleaner into one bump.
  5. Twist the end of one tan pipe cleaner together with the end of the second tan chenille stem.
  6. Wrap the long tan pipe cleaner around the outside of a paint bottle.
  7. Slip one, 2-bump brown pipe cleaner under all the layers of the tan pipe cleaner. Twist once to hold all the tan pipe cleaners together. (The brown pipe cleaner will make the turkey’s head.)
  8. On the opposite side of the paint bottle slide the following 2 bump pipe cleaners under all the layers of the tan pipe cleaner in one area: one each of red, brown, and orange. Position the tan pipe cleaner close together on top of the narrow part of the colored, bumpy pipe cleaner.
  9. Bend the colored pipe cleaners in half and twist once to hold the tan pipe cleaners in place. (see photo)
  10. Slide the turkey body off of the paint bottle.
  11. Bend the head (brown) up and over slightly.
  12. Bend the one-bump, red pipe cleaner in half and twist it around the neck of the turkey.
  13. Place the one-bump yellow pipe cleaner at the bottom of the tan pipe cleaner and twist it around the tan pipe cleaner. Bend the middle of the pipe cleaner in towards the turkey to resemble feet.
  14. Separate and fan  the tan turkey body out to give it a more rounded shape.
  15. Glue a wiggle eye on each side of the turkey’s head.
  16. Fan out the red, brown, and orange tail feathers. (See photo)

Corn Collage

What you’ll need:

  • Yellow and green construction paper
  • Popped corn
  • Scissors
  • Jumbo craft sticks
  • White craft glue
  • Pattern
  • Lime green puffy or 3-D squeeze paint (optional)

How to make it:

    1. Cut out the pattern, cut the corn cob out separately from the leaves. Trace onto construction paper. You can get up to 7 corn cobs from one sheet of yellow construction paper and 3 sets of leaves from a green sheet of construction paper.
    2. Cut the corn cobs and leaves from the construction paper.
    3. Glue the yellow cob onto the green leaves.
    4. Put a layer of glue on to the yellow corn cob. Cover the glue with popped corn. Let dry. You can stop here if you wanted the simple version of this craft.

  1. Repeat the above steps to make a second corn, making sure that you will be able to glue them together back to back when you are finished. Line up the leaves to make sure.
  2. Use puffy paint to draw green outlines up and down the leaves. Let dry completely.
  3. Glue a craft stick to the back of one of the completed corn cobs. Sandwich the craft stick between two corn cobs, lining up the leaves before gluing together.
  4. When dry, you can insert the craft sticks into some floral foam or Styrofoam and display on your holiday table.


  • Puffy paint usually takes a long time to dry. If you plan to use this step, be sure to allow for several hours of drying time.
  • If you would like to make the simple version of this craft a little sturdier, you can either use card stock instead of construction paper, or cut pattern from a piece of cardboards and glue corn collage to it.
  • Break pieces of popcorn up and glue the flat side to the paper, popped side facing outward.

Tummy Time for Babies

The hot summer weather takes a toll on babies as well as their caregivers.  One can only imagine how extra warm it is being held to be fed, comforted and transported about.  While babies need and thrive on human contact they also can get overheated quickly.  Well-meaning parents sometimes over dress and  over-wrap up small infants and should take into consideration the temperature when making these decisions.  There is nothing wrong with a baby wearing only a diaper or going au natural for short periods of time (on a waterproof pad of course: ) . 

 Putting babies on their tummies on a blanket on the floor or in a play yard is also a nice variation for them.  Research shows that this position is important for development of proper muscles babies need to push-up and crawl.  The Back to Sleep campaign has educated parents to put them on their back for sleeping but we should also use the tummy position during waking time.  Some activity mats have a tummy booster that you can position your baby over or you can use a soft pillow or a rolled up towel.  As your baby gains strength to hold their own head up they will enjoy reaching for favourite toys and testing different muscles.   Get down on the floor and interact with your baby, on an eye to eye level.   Some babies may enjoy this activity more than others so stay tuned in to your baby’s cues.  Change their position or conclude tummy time if they get fussy.  Repeat this activity each day and encourage the baby to spend a little longer each time.  Change the toys or props that you provide to entertain them and sing or chat to your baby to make this an enjoyable routine.

 Sharon Brooks RECE