Blog Posts by The Savvy Source

  • Four Ways to Make the Everyday Special

    Our kids require a lot time and attention, don't they? They have all kinds of needs and desires clamoring to be met. At the same time, small children are amazingly easy to please, even delight. As we go about our everyday routines with them, it takes only a bit of imagination and effort to transform the mundane into the magical.

    The best ideas for turning the same-old-same-old into something special generally come from our kids. They know how to play, and can make anything into a game. Here are a few of their ideas that have livened up our days to great effect.

    Yes Days! When you find yourself saying "no" more often than you'd like, when, indeed, you start to feel like a broken record that keeps skipping back and forth between "no, no, no" and "stop," then the whole family may be ready for a "yes day." Pick a day that has no other big agenda, and within the bounds of safety and reason, start saying yes. You'd like to do finger paints and play dough and beading all in the

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  • Ten Places to Take Your Kids to Teach Them About US History

    by Amy Fauss

    American flag

    Our niece is getting married in a few weeks, and my girls can't wait to head out to Tennessee, the "Volunteer State." They're excited about being flower girls in the wedding, of course, but they're also eager to sightsee in a new state and visit Civil War battle fields, which seems strange, doesn't it? Although I am uncertain where this new interest in the Civil War came from (a Magic Tree House book, I think), I will not look a gift horse in the mouth, and I will embrace the opportunity to teach my girls a bit of history about this land of ours-the USA!

    Teaching our children about the country we live in is a fun and natural part of our everyday lives. Just the other day one of my daughters was asking why it's always a man's face on our coins and bills. It was a wonderful opportunity to share tidbits about how women used to be treated as being less than men, how women couldn't vote until the early 1900s, and how we've never had a female president. My oldest

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  • Eight Reasons Why We Love School

    Ready for school

    Ahh, school. To every kid it is an exciting rite of passage and a boring daily grind; both their favorite and most despised place. As a parent, there is a lot to love about school. Below are eight of the things that we think are great about school.

    8. Your kids learn social skills. Of course we tell our kids to be nice, to share, and to wait their turn, but these lessons aren't really learned until they are in a class with a couple of dozen other kids.

    7. Your kids make friends. From the first moment of their first day at school, your kids will start forming bonds with other little people that aren't part of their family and who you might not even know. In addition to providing a fun playmate, these friendships will teach your child things that you just can't, like how to communicate and relate to peers, and will foster empathy as your child grows.

    6. And so do you! The expansion of your kids' social network can also mean the expansion of yours. You will suddenly have

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  • Five Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day with Your Preschooler

    Prior to having children, I would have sworn that Valentines Day was a giant conspiracy contrived by florists, chocolatiers, and stationery stores. But after becoming a parent, I realized February 14th is a cherished celebration that goes beyond roses, chocolates, and cards. Just as we focus on the importance of gratitude during Thanksgiving and giving during Christmas, Valentine's is a day to focus on friendship and caring -- two monumental lessons that start with our young preschoolers as they begin to express themselves and make new friends.

    The day itself doesn't have to be an expensive or elaborate affair either, as if a bottle of Pepto-Bismol exploded all over the place, but rather a simple homemade card expressing our love and a few hours spent doing the things we love, together.

    Reflect on what you your family enjoys together, whether its a special meal you'd like to have, or cards you'd like share, plan ahead with reservations, ingredients, crafting materials, and

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  • Making Outings Easier for Special Needs Kids

    by Emily Vanek

    boy at a petting zoo

    Experts agree, it's good to get kids out of the house and amongst other kids to help build social skills. When you have a special needs child, sometimes going places can be difficult. Whether you need wheelchair access or a quieter atmosphere, simple excursions like heading to the zoo for a couple hours can become an all day activity. Below are five tips and tricks to help make your outings a little easier.

    1. Go to busy places at off-peak hours. The zoo is, well, a zoo (for lack of a better term) first thing in the morning. Many young families head out around 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. to get the fun in before lunch and before nap time for preschool-age children. Try having an early lunch at home and getting to the zoo or museum during the lunch hours. Alternatively, if the attraction is open later, try going during or right before dinner as well. Oftentimes it is easier to go at your own pace and get through the crowds, if there are much less of the crowds to be

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  • Personal Safety: What Should Your Child Know?

    boy and his father

    When children are very small they are rarely out of the sight of their parents or caregivers. When we think of their safety, it is usually in terms of car seats and choking hazards, steep stairs and too-tall play structures.

    When they turn the corner from toddlers to preschoolers, things start to change. We stop following right behind them at the playground. They don't always want to ride in the cart at the grocery story (and some of them have gotten too big!). If they stray out of sight for a few brief moments we don't worry too much. We scan the area, we peer down the adjacent aisle and there they are, absorbed in play or in gazing at the cookie shelves.

    These kinds of moments should not alarm us (they are absolutely to be expected). But they should be our cue that it is time to start teaching our little ones a few personal safety basics.

    To begin, make sure your three-year-old knows:

    • His/her full name
    • His/her parents' full name and/or caregiver's full name
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  • Ten Outdoor Things Every Child Should Do Before They Are Too Cool for School

    by Laure Latham

    child on a tire swing

    So you've checked all the boxes. Playdates... check. Organized activities... check. Homework... check. Healthy snacks... check. Good job, right? Wait! What about the outdoors? Oh, we're not talking commando backpacking trips in remote wilderness areas, here. Just simple things like biking, smelling flowers or skipping stones. Snippets of outdoors really, simple and yet not so easy to fit in today's overscheduled weeks.

    If you have fond memories of running wild outside in your childhood, be a good sport and give your kids the same experience today. To help you out, here is a list of ten outdoor activities that every child should do before they're too cool for school.

    1. Explore nature. Let's start with the basics. What does dirt feel like when you dig in it with your fingers? Do these flowers smell nice? Are there any 4-leaf clovers in this forest? Is that a tree tunnel? Over here, did the rain bring out some snails? Whether in open spaces or urban parks,
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  • Ten Questions to Ask when You Move to a New Neighborhood

    a lovely neighborhood

    In this new age of virtual communities and long-distance digital friendships, we sometimes forget how important our local, brick-and-mortar neighborhoods are to family life. In contrast, our preschoolers, who tend to be far more rooted in the day-to-day than we are, need no reminding. For kids, their own neighborhood is full of small, personal landmarks, interesting characters (both human and animal), favorite shops, friends, and more. They know all of the bumps in the sidewalks (to avoid when on scooters), they know which stores keep a bowl of candy on the counter, and most of all they know the other kids. All of those connections close at hand give them enormous satisfaction.

    Our kids' local-mindedness means that moving, whether across the country or across town, will be a significant upheaval for everyone. It also means that they will share our eagerness to get to know the new neighborhood as quickly as possible.

    So what is the best way for a busy parent to get to

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  • Ten Outings for Your 2012 to Do List

    notebook and pen

    One of the best things about the start of 2012 is getting to put up a new calendar. The old one is filled to the brim with events, meetings, play dates, date nights, travel plans, birthday parties, and reminders of all kinds. It was a full year.

    The new calendar though... the new one is blissfully blank. There's nothing on it yet, and all that empty space gives us room to dream a bit, and even set a few goals for the year.

    The goals we have in mind are family goals-things we'd like to do together. We're not sure we'll get to all of them, but it makes us happy just to think about trying.

    1. Spend time at the beach. This is always on our list, every year. It's just the best.
    2. Go ice-skating, sledding and/or skiing. We have so much fun in the snow with the kids.
    3. Volunteer for a project at school. It always feels like too much, and it's always satisfying nonetheless.
    4. Get to know a new person/make a new friend. This is a hope for both parents and kids (especially
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  • The Big Picture: Five Things We Do as Parents that Really Matter (and Some that Really Don't!)

    family at sundown

    Call us conflicted. We tend to cast a jaundiced eye at the "new year, new you" promises we hear this time of year. And, yet, we place real faith in any opportunity for reflection that offers a bit of perspective, a perch from which we can look at ourselves, see what we like, wince a little at what we don't, and resolve to tip the balance a bit going forward.

    We especially like the chance for a wide view, a sweep across parenting's horizon.

    Of all the things we do as parents, what really matters?

    What really doesn't?

    Put your hand up to your brow and gaze out with us:

    Kindness really matters. Sometimes that means good old-fashioned manners: asking politely, looking someone in the eye, learning to apologize. Sometimes that means the little flickers of empathy in a preschooler's world, starting with taking turns. Always that means treating everyone in your family, your crew and your world with respect. And tough as it is, grown-ups gotta lead on this one. Kids

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