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PARENTING & NURTURING ACTIVITIES & LESSONS FOR HOME, SCHOOL, YOUTH PROGRAMS


INTRODUCTION

It is now possible for a person eighteen years of age to graduate from high school without ever having had to do a piece of work on which somebody else truly depended...without ever having cared for, or even held, a baby;... without ever having comforted or assisted another human being who really needed help.... No society can long sustain itself unless its members have learned the sensitivities, motivations, and skills involved in assisting and caring for other human beings.
Urie Bronfenbrenner, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Human Development, Cornell University, The Ecology of Human Development.


All children of all ages need opportunities to learn to nurture, the basis for later parenting. Some children and teens have more occasions than others to observe and learn nurturing in the course of their daily lives. Others, particularly the youngest in their families, may need more planned opportunities and activities. Spending time with family or friends who have younger children, having a pet, or even planting and caring for window boxes or a garden patch are all ways to foster children’s nurturing skills at home. In addition, a number of engaging, fun school-based programs are available for children of all ages.

As part of “Preparing Tomorrow’s Parents Month,” The Parenting Project encourages all adults involved with children to incorporate at least one activity, at home, school or in a youth program, to help our children become nurturers today and nurturing, knowledgeable parents of the next generation. We invite you to print and use the following activities and classroom lessons between Mother's Day and Father's Day - and all year, and to contact the providers for more information. The activities are listed in order of recommended ages, starting with activities for younger children. Additional program information is listed on The Parenting Project’s resource page at www.preparetomorrowsparents.org/resource.html


TOPICS EXPERTS SUGGEST FOR
PARENTING EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN & TEENS

Suggested Parenting Education topics for children and teens: Personal Attributes and Skills for Effective Parenting; Knowledge and Skills for Effective Parenting; Attitudes, Roles and Responsibilities of Effective Parenting are listed at www.preparetomorrowsparents.org/topics.html.


TEN TIPS TO FOSTER NURTURING IN CHILDREN

Take advantage of simple and natural opportunities to teach nurturing and prepare children of all ages for future parenting: www.preparetomorrowsparents.org/tentips.html.


ACTIVITIES & LESSONS FOR
PRESCHOOL THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AGES


FOR ALL AGES

VISIT WITH BABIES, TODDLERS & PARENTS

Take your child to visit a baby or toddler and its parent, or invite the parent to bring the baby to visit your class, group or home.

  • With your child or class, think of questions in advance to ask about the responsibilities of caring for the baby, what the baby can do and not do at that age, and what the baby understands and needs at different ages.
  • Have your child or class observe the baby and parent together and interact with the baby themselves.
  • Afterward, talk about what your child learned and felt as he or she observed the baby and parent. What ideas did this experience give them about parenting and its responsibilities? What questions do they have about themselves at that age?
  • If possible, repeat the visits so your child, students or youth group can observe the baby’s development over time and learn about how a parent’s responsibilities change with their growing child.
  • Educating Children for Parenting® , Learning to Care, and Roots of Empathy™ are established programs, for classroom or out of school, that are centered in classroom baby visits. Read about and link to them at www.preparetomorrowsparents.org/resource.html

SET A GOOD EXAMPLE

Most important, model the attitudes, values and behaviors you want to encourage in your children, students or youth group participants. For example, young people deserve the respect inherent in an adult’s apology: “Jane, I’m so sorry I lost my temper. I feel terrible that I let that happen, and I imagine you have some feelings about it, too. Let’s talk.” Young people will learn from your modeling how to be more empathic and considerate to their peers, their siblings and, eventually, their own children.


FOR PRESCHOOL & EARLY ELEMENTARY AGES

  • WHY IS THAT BABY CRYING?
    from Parents Under Construction of ChildBuilders (Houston Advocates for Mental Health in Children)


LEARN HOW BABIES REALLY WORK THROUGH “BABY SCIENCE”

Get the book Baby Science: How Babies Really Work by Ann Douglas (Owl Books, 1998). Look for it in your library, or read about and order it through www.babyscience.com. Read the book, look at the pictures with your child or class, and do some of the activities. Children will discover fascinating information and understand what it’s like to be a baby through hands-on "baby science.” The author developed and field-tested the book with her own family; it is also appropriate for classroom or youth program baby visits. If you can, look at the book before you visit with a baby. (See previous activity.)


FOR ELEMENTARY AGES

LANGUAGE ARTS: Interviews
SCIENCE: Animal Growth and Change
ARTS: Mood Music, Visual Arts

activities from Educating Children for Parenting ®


FOR LATE ELEMENTARY TO HIGH SCHOOL AGES

PARTNERING: AN EXPERIENCE IN CARING
a lesson plan by Harriet Heath, Ph.D.


UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONS
condensed lesson plan from the workbook “Parenting Rewards & Responsibilities: Parent & Home Involvement” by Marilyn Swierk, MS, CFCS, CFLE, Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2000. For more information, visit www.glencoe.com

Helping young people understand and talk clearly about their emotions now will increase their understanding of themselves and others - including their own children - in the future. Keep this chart for your whole family for a week, or assign your students or youth group to do this activity at home with their own families.

  • Create a “Family Emotions Chart” to post on the wall or fridge with seven columns listing each day of the week and at least eight to ten rows that list a variety of emotions on the left. Solicit young people’s suggestions of which emotions to list.
  • Assign a different color crayon or marker to each family member.
  • At the end of each day, have each family member mark a big colored dot next to the emotion that best describes how he or she felt that day. If necessary, mark more than one emotion for the day.
  • At the week’s end, family members connect their dots with their crayon color.
  • Review the week’s chart as a family and discuss what you see: Was this a typical week? Which weekdays felt best or worst? Did the weather affect people’s moods? Which family members had similar feelings and which had different feelings and why? Whose moods were even and whose varied? Does looking at the chart help your children understand themselves and their family members better?
  • Bring the charts in to school or a group meeting to share and discuss as a class, and discover the many emotions other children and adults have every week!

FOR MIDDLE AND JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL AGES

BABYSITTER CERTIFICATION

Encourage pre-teens and young teens to take a certified babysitting course. When appropriate, offer them a badge or other award for it. The course will increase their knowledge of child development and parenting skills, while helping them immediately take better care of their siblings and other children in their care. Both American Red Cross and Safesitters offer babysitting certifications throughout the United States.
www.redcross.org/services/hss/courses/babyindex.html
www.safesitter.org


FOR JUNIOR AND SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL AGES

DEFINING A DAD, PATERNITY AND CHILD SUPPORT
lesson plan from Dads Make a Difference™


PARENTING: INFANT SAFETY
lesson plan from The Baby Think It Over® Program


MAKING PARENTING DECISIONS
condensed lesson plan from the workbook “Parenting Rewards & Responsibilities: Parent & Home Involvement” by Marilyn Swierk, MS, CFCS, CFLE, Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2000. For more information, visit www.glencoe.com

Parents must make countless important decisions every day. Help young people develop the skills they’ll need to make wise parenting decisions by practicing the following decision-making process with them:

  • First, make up a few decision-making scenarios. Examples include, “Carol would like to have a baby, but suspects her husband is becoming an alcoholic. What should she do?” or “Children in the neighborhood are picking on Bill and Carla’s son. Bill and Carla want to help him. What should they do?” Let your family, class or group choose one or two scenarios to explore.
  • Use the six steps of the decision-making process to work together to find a resolution to the scenario. Be sure everyone contributes his or her ideas to the process. If necessary, write responses on separate sheets of paper first.

The Decision-Making Process:

1. Identify the exact decision to be made.
2. List all the options.
3. Create a two column chart to list the pros and cons of each option.
4. Consider your values: What is important to you and your family?
5. Make a decision and take action.
6. Evaluate the results of your decision and take responsibility for the consequences.


PREVENTING SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME
condensed lesson plan from the workbook “Parenting Rewards & Responsibilities: Parent & Home Involvement” by Marilyn Swierk, MS, CFCS, CFLE, Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2000. For more information, visit www.glencoe.com

As a class, group or family, find out as much as you can about shaken baby syndrome and take action to prevent this problem from occurring in your community.

  • Have your children, students or youth group use the Internet, library, and calls to social service agencies and pediatricians to research what shaken baby syndrome is, how often it occurs, and why it happens.
  • Discuss reasons why people might shake their babies, how the problem can be prevented, and where parents can go to get help. Discuss what your children or students can and should do if they suspect someone is abusing their child.
  • Talk about the reasons babies cry and ways to soothe a crying baby.
  • Finally, work with your family, class or group to help prevent this problem locally by raising people’s awareness of shaken baby syndrome. Actions to take together might include creating and handing out flyers outside grocery stores or malls, creating and hanging posters around the community, writing a letter to the editor of the local paper, and writing an article for the high school paper.


2001 NEW YORK STATE ACADEMY FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING
PARENTING LEARNING EXPERIENCES (MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL)

These Learning Experiences were developed by teachers throughout New York State, toward implementation of the state’s new parenting preparation high school graduation requirement. These teachers were trained and mentored for a year before their work was accepted by the New York State Academy for Teaching and Learning peer review process.

A learning experience is a series of learning opportunities designed to result in mastery of content and acquisition of skills leading to the achievement of the New York State Learning Standards. The teachers used the New York State Draft Parenting Education Scope of Instruction to guide their curriculum development for the official piloting of the preliminary scope of instruction document.

The peer review panel uses the following criteria as the basis for recommendation to the Academy: Relation to the New York State Learning Standards; Intellectual Challenge; Assessment Plan; Engagement; Adaptability; Technology Integration.

Additional information can be found at:
For details on the New York State Parenting Education requirement go to www.emsc.nysed.gov/part100/pages/parentingqa.html
For comprehensive New York State implementation resources, see the guide
Promoting Best Practices for School-Based Parenting Education

Contact:
Denyse Altman Variano, RN, MPS
Human Development & Family Studies
Cornell Cooperative Extension - Orange County
18 Seward Avenue, Suite 300
Middletown, NY 10940
dav4@cornell.edu
phone: 845-344-1234
fax: 845-343-7471


YIKES!!! TIKES!!! NO OWNER’S MANUAL??? Raising Children In Today’s Society (student and program materials)
by Diane Babin, Schalmont High School, Schalmont NY School District

LEARNING EXPERIENCE CONTEXT, RESOURCES & SEQUENTIAL PLAN


DIFFERENT AGES, STAGES, AND PAGES: A PARENTING HYPERLINK
Distance Learning curriculum by Sally Taibe, Warrensburg High School, Warrensburg NY School District


PARENTING LEARNING EXPERIENCE: USING BEHAVIORAL CONTRACTS FOR CHILD ADVOCACY
by Lisa A. Rauche, Shaker High School, North Colonie NY School District; allows students to practice parenting in action from the viewpoint of the parent as well as the child


WEB QUEST: PARENTHOOD + CAREER = CHILD CARE
Learning Experience by Martha J. Antonello, Northport High School, Northport - East Northport NY School District


EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION KIT FOR PARENTS OF TEENAGERS
Learning Experience by Courtney Sanderl, Amherst Middle School, Amherst Central NY School District



SAFETY IN THE HOME
Learning Experience by Jewel Faerber, DeWitt Clinton High School, Bronx Superintendency, New York City Board of Education



PARENTING EDUCATION EXTENDED PERFORMANCE TASK

Learning Experience by Laura Dombrowski, Kenmore East High School, Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda NY School District



REALITY STORE

Learning Experience by Pat Loncto, former New York State Parenting Education Coordinator.
Developed at Lewiston-Porter Middle School, Lewiston-Porter Central NY School District.


HOW MUCH DO BABIES REALLY COST?
Calculating the Real Cost of Babies

1997 New York State Academy Learning Experience by Bonnie Perkins, North Rose Wolcott High School

 
 

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