Grandparents and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes

Your two granddaughters come to visit while their mother copes with a new baby. Every morning, you pour mountainous bowls of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes for each one before they come downstairs.

Did you know Kellogg's Corn Flakes has been around for over 100 years? (K.Nollet, 2015)
Did you know Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has been around for over 100 years? (K.Nollet, 2015)

You set out spoons and the yellow milk pitcher. You have firm ideas about the propriety of leaving the cereal box on the table, so you put it back in the cabinet.

Years ago, I was one of those little girls and severely disappointed.  Why?

Because I’d been deprived of one of life’s pleasures–reading the cereal box while eating.

Have you noticed how we all read cereal boxes over and over? It’s entertainment and learning, something today’s grandparents love to provide.

Lots of preschoolers can read plenty on the box because they recognize the logo, colors, shapes, and easy words. Older grandchild will notice the kayaking and Kellogg’s free cruise contest. Why not help them enter?

Do your grandkids know Corny the rooster? (K.Nollet, 2015)
Do your grandkids know Corny the rooster? (K.Nollet, 2015)

The nutrition information alone is full of math and science possibilities—percentages, measurement, minerals, vitamins—and you can practice Spanish and English at the same time.

On the back of the box, there’s a message just for you. “Discover the possibilities” the next time you serve a bowl of corn flakes.

Family, TV and Ice Pops

If you have children of any age, you know what fussy time is. It’s that difficult time between school or daycare and home, right before supper. Everyone’s on edge, exhausted, hungry, irritable, and whiny.img-ice pop

Sound familiar? Not to mention that you’ve had a long and stressful day at work, after which you tore around town, carting kids from daycare or school to lessons, sports and activities.

Meanwhile, no one notices that you’d like a fussy time, too.

What worked for our family? TV and ice pops. Not every day, but often. After dashing home I never could get carrot sticks together, but ½ an ice pop along with the Disney movie du jour helped a lot. Thank goodness my daughters preferred chicken, peas, and couscous. We limited our menus to ten minutes of preparation.

After some protein, the evening improved. Supper, conversation, homework, baths, reading, and bed.

I’ve always felt that it’s okay to let a few things slide to achieve a peaceful-ish dinner and evening. Why this topic in a blog on education? Because classrooms today put tremendous pressure on children to learn every minute. Recess is disappearing. Standardized testing begins in March in some schools , so test prep and instruction intensifies. All of these are extremely stressful for students.  These pressures travel home with them and affect their family members.

Even though it’s hard, we parents are the best ones to help with that.  Nothing is more important than helping your child decompress and never before has family time mattered so much.  Only you can spend the time that matters with your child to help balance their lives. Cuddle on the sofa. Read in the same room. Watch a little quiet TV together. Go outside and play after supper.

And remember that for one family, ice pops helped make this possible.

Family Rituals and Bobby Shafto

Does your family love to dance?  Play soccer together?  Deep-fry turkeys on special occasions?  All are rituals that enrich family lives.

Mine was a family that loved to sing. When we were children, my grandmother accompanied us on the piano as she taught us folk songs and nursery rhymes.

My sisters and I sang Bobby Shafto in harmony while washing dishes. In the car, our mother taught us to sing the round White Coral Bells. When I learned to play the piano, my father appeared whenever he heard me play the introduction to The Bowery and he sang next to me.

Later, when our aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered for Christmas, we sang through Handel’s Messiah in four-part harmony. We weren’t professionals. Not everyone sang in tune. It was a family ritual and something we enjoyed.

Looking back, what do I think we children learned from all of the singing?

Certainly social and emotional skills—everyone participated and no one dared grouch along. Our ears learned to distinguish sounds (a reading skill) and rhythmic patterns (art, music and math skills). We learned to read lyrics that used words from different countries and eras (more reading). Our vocabularies grew with words like andante and diminuendo.

With rituals like this reinforced from all sides in a family, learning occurs and memories are made.

It doesn’t matter what your family sings—oldies, show tunes, or hymns—it’s the doing it together that helps children grow.

 

Shown:  The Daughters of Catulle-Mendès at the Piano

Pierre August Renoir, 1888