June means the end of the school year, and with it, a lot of kids without much to do. While many people imagine summer vacation being a bunch of lazy days, the fact is most parents have to work and worry about what they’ll do to keep the kids busy and out of trouble. The following Tips for Parents will help you plan fun summer activities for your kids.
Tips for Parents #1 Safety First
Childcare over the summer months can be an expense many families can’t afford. But before you leave your kids home alone be sure that they’re responsible and old enough to stay home safely. Check your state’s laws about the youngest age a child can stay alone. Make sure they know what to do in an emergency, how to deal with strangers on the phone or at the door and have a neighbor check in on them regularly.
Tips for Parents #2 Keep them Busy
While summer should be a relaxing, fun time for kids, they still need to keep their minds and bodies active. Set firm limits about how much time they’re allowed to watch TV and movies, or play video or computer games. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that more than two hours a day in front of the TV leads to increased obesity and lowered academic achievement.
Instead, provide the kids with a comprehensive list of approved activities, and make sure they have the supplies on hand to do them. Make it clear which activities they’re allowed to do on their own, and which ones they need to do with adult supervision. Here are some ideas for learning, active, summer fun:
Visit the local library for books, videos, music, games, activities, story times, and summer reading programs. For tips and ideas, visit the American Library Association.
Sports—have the kids join a team. If that’s not possible, encourage them to play basketball, soccer, baseball, badminton, volleyball, or croquet in the yard or with friends that live nearby.
Other outdoor fun: tree climbing, jumping rope, camping in the backyard, bike riding, sidewalk chalk, building forts out of cardboard boxes, playing with pets, swimming, jumping on a trampoline, or running through the sprinkler. Check out Family Education’s Outdoor Activities for tons of great ideas for kids 6-10 years old.
Projects: planting a vegetable or flower garden, writing a book or journal, painting a series of paintings on a theme, planning and performing a play, making a movie with a camcorder, etc.
Learn a new sport or musical instrument, study geology or geography with field trips, or astronomy and stargazing.
Start a collection: bugs, rocks, dried plants or flowers, books, or found objects.
Help them plan, advertise, and run a small summer business: babysitting, lawn mowing, pet sitting, selling baked goodies, crafts, or jewelry they’ve made, or have them start plants from seeds and sell them. Read these Money Instructor’s Child Business Tips
Volunteer. Kids learn a lot from helping others. They can help an elderly neighbor, coach a younger team, be a teen volunteer at the local hospital, or organize a charity event such as car wash, barbecue, or mothers’ luncheon. Teens can visit Do Something for volunteer opportunities near them.
Summer camp: have them go to an accredited camp for a week or two for a change of scenery and good fun. Visit the American Camp Association for accredited camps in your area.
Planned outings: visit the zoo, museum, planetarium, beach, park, swimming pool, go camping or hiking, stargazing, or fishing.
Cooking: have them plan, shop, and prepare for a family dinner each week. They can visit the award-winning kids cooking website, Spatulatta, for measuring instructions, safety tips, recipes, and more.
Community Events: check your local paper or visit your library to find out about fairs, festivals, and other community events to do as a family.
Board games: encourage them to make it exciting by having neighborhood chess tournaments, a Monopoly day (where everyone dresses as their favorite Monopoly game piece), or play for prizes.
Chores. Ok, doing chores is rarely fun, but it’s important for kids to take part in the family’s chores. They learn responsibility and feel proud that they can contribute. Require that kids clean up after themselves, and have them help out with laundry or watering the garden. Reward them for a job well done.
With a little bit of planning, summer can be a safe, fun, and learning time for kids.
Jason Cecil –
Director of National Recruitment
(excerpts from Learning Community Magazine)
Kansas Care Providers of the Month
Amber Rivera has been amazing for us since the day she became licensed. She goes out of her way to make her current placement feel at home and part of her family. She is not afraid to advocate for what is in the interest of her placement and goes above and beyond to make sure her needs are being met. She is super quick to offer to help out in a respite or emergency situation and is just an all-around good person who is genuinely fostering for all the right reasons. We are so lucky to have her – Thank you Amber for all that you do for TFI and the children you have cared for.
“It’s okay not to love us.” I kept my face buried in my pillow, yet my ears were on full alert. “And I’m not going to say that I love you, because I haven’t known you long enough to feel that way. I like you very much and I want you to be my part of my family, but love is something that grows with shared experiences. I feel the buds of love growing, but it hasn’t blossomed yet.” I could not believe she was being so honest. She took a long breath. “There is nothing we can say to make you believe we’ll be here for you. You’ll only learn it by living with us.” ― Ashley Rhodes-Courter, Three Little Words: A Memoir
Have you had a conversation like this with one of your foster children? Have you felt the buds of love growing? We need you to share that conversation with other people that maybe thinking about fostering. We need you to let them know the amazing feeling it is to watch that love grow and blossom, see a child blossom, and grow because of it.
Last year we made all of you Ambassadors and with that gave many benefits that go with it. If you have any questions please ask your worker or give me a call personally. If you are unsure what to say to a person or a group of people let us know. We are happy to help with those conversations. We have several Information nights coming up this month. Check out our Facebook page and if you are in the area stop by and invite some people that you think would be good foster parents. We all are in this for the same reason to Foster Hope, Foster Love, Foster Care.
Kansas/Nebraska Community Liaison Coordinator
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The home of Cassie and Stephanie Langford had expressed a lot of interest in taking placement of an LGBTQ child. After a lengthy process of finding an appropriate placement, TFI FCW Kelly Taylor and DHS connected the Langfords with a teen. The Langfords met with the child several times and made the decision to take him into their home, even after he displayed some very challenging behaviors at his then-current placement. The Langfords have done a great job connecting with the child and meeting his needs. TFI Family Connections is so thankful for families like the Langfords!
Congratulations to Texas!
Texas officially has an adoption contract and may now begin adoptions.
Congratulations to the Bonenbergers. After having two girls, ages 5 and 6, in their home for almost a year, parental rights were terminated and they adopted those girls on May 16, 2018.
Congratulations to the Morris’. OC-OK was looking for a home willing to take in a teenage girl and the teen’s newborn infant, who had severe medical needs. It was a difficult decision with all the ups and downs due to the behaviors of the teen mom, but the Morris’ decided to move forward toward adopting this teen mom. The Morris family adopted the teen mom at the age of 18 years old. As stated by the Morris’ all it took was stability because ever since their adoption was finalized the behavioral problems of their daughter have gone away.
Leonard and Ann Swink
Thomas and Olivia McClean
Jason and Marcie Rinaldo
Johnny and Kayli Daniels
Kent and Jennifer Wagner
Matthew and Ashley Fryer
TFI has the following grant funding available to assist foster children and foster families. Please speak with your foster care worker for more information:
Pritchett Trust: Funds available to foster children placed in Crawford County, KS for the purchase of musical instruments and music lessons.
Understanding Attachment and Attachment-Bases Activities for Foster Parents
The term attachment is often used to refer to the relationship between an infant or child and a parent or caregiver. The theoretical basis of most research suggests that a secure attachment in infancy will predict good social and emotional outcomes later in life.
How caregivers anticipate, respond to and interpret a child’s attachment behavior is influenced by many factors. For example, birth parents who are dealing with challenges such as mental illness, substance abuse, or domestic violence are likely to have difficulty in focusing on and attending to their child’s needs. Parents own experiences as children are also likely to affect how caregivers anticipate, respond to and interpret their own child’s behavior. Caregivers lacking secure attachments with others may also find it difficult to respond to a child in appropriate ways that lead to health attachment.
Some foster children coping with attachment issues may keep their feelings to themselves and shy away from emotional closeness. These children may stiffen when held or refuse to admit that they have been hurt or to seek comfort. When caregivers do not respond to children’s distress, or when the threat of abuse leaves children in state of anxiety or fear, children do not learn to regulate their own emotions by developing self-control. This can explain the over-reactions and intense negative emotions that foster children often show in response to stress or disagreements.
Children who have been abused by a caregiver are often watchful, fearful and alert to danger, even when there is no threat apparent. With so much energy directed towards self-protection and anxiety, there is little left over to develop an interest in learning. Because of a tendency to be inattentive and uncooperative and to perform poorly at school, some foster children are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) or conduct disorder at higher rates than other children.
Children often enter foster care with an expectation that those who care for them will be unresponsive or will hurt them. They may not understand how their present caregiver can be available and nurturing when all their previous experience tells them that caregivers are unresponsive and frightening. Having a caregiver who provides consistent and responsive care helps children to learn to recognize and understand their own emotions and regulate their own behavior and emotions. Through experiencing responsive and sensitive caregiving, a child also develops social competencies, empathy and emotional intelligence, and learns how to relate to other people and understand what to expect from them. When a caregiver is sensitive to a child’s emotional needs and responds positively, it helps the child to develop a sense of being loved and lovable. When children develop a sense that their new caregivers will protect them from harm, can be relied on, and really care what happens to them, difficult behaviors often become less frequent and resilience starts to grow. Resilience will help foster children rise above difficult circumstances, allowing them to live in an imperfect world with optimism and confidence!
Play hide and seek. As an added bonus this also develops object permanence.
Paint each other’s faces with paint, powder, make up, or just pretend.
Donut Dare. Hold a donut on your finger through the hole and have your child see how many bites they can take before it falls off. If you want to make this a bit healthier you could change the donut to a pineapple ring.
Play a memory game but with a more personal touch. First, have your child look you over very carefully. Then leave the room and return after you’ve changed something about yourself. See if s/he can figure out what is different. It could be something really obvious for younger kids, like taking off a sweater, but for older kids you could get more challenging, like buttoning one more button on the sweater.
Guess the Goodies! Put several small treats in a bag or cup. Then have your child closes his/her eyes. Finally, you pop a treat in your child’s mouth and have him/her try to guess what it is.
Hold your child in your arms and dance. This is a very synchronous activity.
Play a tunnel activity kind of like London Bridge. Both parents start by kneeling on the floor to form a tunnel. Then have your child crawl through the tunnel as fast as s/he can before it collapses. During the first few times let him/her get completely through, then have it gently collapse onto your child.
Give a pillow ride! Have your child sit on a big floor pillow as you drag him/her around the room. Make sure to only move when given eye contact.
Play catch! Roll a ball back and forth to teach reciprocity. Throwing or batting a balloon back and forth may be easier than throwing a ball for little ones.
Engage in an M&M hockey rivalry. Use bendy straws and blow candy across table to the other person’s goal. When one of you scores a goal, the opponent feeds that person candy.
Marshmallow fight! Each person uses a pillow as a shield. Sit on the floor and throw marshmallows at each other. This gets wild and crazy and is a lot of fun. You can do the same thing with crumpled paper if you don’t have marshmallows handy.
Create a pillow jumping maze. Set up pillow islands in a pattern across the floor. Have your child start at one end while you are at the other. S/he can only start to cross the room when you say “go” (you could say “mo” or “lo” to make things more challenging and teach him/her to be more attentive). After given the green light, your child must jump across the islands and into your arms.
Secure attachment in infancy predicts good _________ and _________ outcomes.
List two parent factors which can prevent the development of a secure attachment to their child.
List three behaviors common with children experiencing attachment issues.
___________, __________, and __________ are common diagnoses for children struggling with attachment issues.
__________ and __________ care helps foster children learn to better understand and regulate their own emotions and behavior.
______________ helps foster children rise above difficult circumstances and move forward with optimism and confidence.
TFI Family Connections is a private not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization providing foster care services and care for the children and families in Oklahoma. We are a licensed Child Placing Agency by the State of Oklahoma Department of Human Services; license no. CPA K860000352.