Perspective: Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

Our son is finishing up a round of pediatric physical therapy.  He has been a ‘toe walker’ ever since he took his first steps.  While this doesn’t stop him from getting around, his pediatrician advised we take him to therapy after his last check up.  The reason for this is because toe walkers often don’t stretch out muscles and tendons in their foot.  This appeared to be the case for my son.  By having him go through therapy, we would all learn methods to stretch these out.  The hope is that it would lead to better walking habits.

The Results

So far, we’re one for two on the  goals noted above.  He has improved the mobility in his foot, meaning that it stretches out better.  This is a good thing.  Unfortunately, he still often walks on his toes.  We always tell him when we catch him, and he’ll drop down while he walks, but it’s just a habit that he’s not ready to break yet.  This isn’t ideal, but it means we’ll have to keep him engaged in the stretching exercises.  The good news is that he doesn’t have to go to therapy indefinitely. His movement will be measured by the pediatrician, and if needed, he might need to go back to therapy occasionally.

I know first hand that habits like this are hard to break.  I never got over my fingernail biting as a child, and I still do it to this day.  Who knows why some habits stick and others form?

Perspective After Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

Since my son started attending therapy, my wife typically takes him.  She picks him up from school and drives him, and I get our daughter off the bus.  This worked best for us so that it didn’t interrupt my work day.

Still, my wife thought it would be a good idea for me to attend.  I had asked her a number of questions, and rather than be the go-between, she thought I should go.

So I did.

Attending was quite eye opening, but not for the reasons I thought.

Getting some of my questions answered and seeing how things worked was the easy part.  That just involved sticking my head through a door and spending a few minutes chatting with the therapist.  She clarified a few things and confirmed a couple of things I’d been thinking about post-therapy planning.  That was the easy part.

Where it really opened my eyes was seeing some of the other children in for therapy.  We were lucky to find a kids only therapy center, which has worked really well.  But, just as is the case with any medical office, you see the other patients as they enter and leave.

Some Amazing Kids

And I have to tell you, there were some pretty amazing kids there.  I saw a kid that didn’t seem to talk.  They were trying to work with her, and also have her communicate with a special tablet to make sure she had interaction.  I saw a kid who had been in some kind of accident who was really struggling, but working hard to get back to doing what had once been normal.  In the hour that I was there, I saw these and others.

And Some Incredible Parents

I also saw some pretty amazing parents.  It really put things in perspective for me in a number of ways.  We often get pretty wrapped in our own kids lives and their struggles, and we can sometime get overwhelmed in the process.  If one of the kids comes home with a note from school, it’s easy to get frustrated.  When we tell our son for what seems like the 50th time that day to walk on his feet, we become that nagging parent we promised we’d never be.  When we hear toilet talk, it pushes us closer to seeing red.

But, you know what?  Seeing what these other parents go through gives some much needed perspective.  For each other kid I saw there, I saw a parent that was fully supportive.  They were immersed in making sure that their child had every opportunity to work through their particular challenge.  The love was amazing.

It was really cool to see and it made me walk out with appreciation for what they do.  I’m sure it’s not always easy for them.  It can’t be.

Regardless, I had nothing but admiration for these parents.  It was an honor to be able to see this little bit of their lives.  And, it really put things in perspective.

Readers, have you had an eye opening moment like this?   Has there ever been a time when you got a look at someone else’s life, and it made you see yours differently?  Let me know your story in the comments below.  And, thanks so much for reading.

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7 Affordable Spring Break Activities For Kids

It’s almost getting to be that time of year again.  The kids will be off school for a week.  You’ll want to keep them occupied so that they don’t go crazy.  Plus, you don’t want to go crazy in the process.  Here are some affordable spring break activities for kids to consider this year.

Play Dates

If your kids have made friends, now is a perfect time to get them together.  A few kids together might not be the quietest of time, but they will burn off energy and have fun.  Plus, they can make some great memories and reinforce bonds.

Bounce Around

One of the latest fads we’ve seen are trampoline centers, where there are a few thousand square feet available for kids to bounce around.  This will cost you a few bucks, but hopping and bouncing will bring plenty of smiles.

Walk Outside

Who knows what the weather will bring?  If it’s warm or cold, plan on some walks outside.  Make them even more fun by doing some scavenger hunts.  Fresh air does the body good!

Movie & Popcorn

You can do this one of two ways.  Go out for a matinee and get some popcorn, or grab a favorite movie and pop some corn at home. Either way, it’s a good way to kill a couple of hours and get some fun entertainment.  Hey, maybe you could even do both over the course of the week!

Game Night

Electronics have certainly taken over much of what kids do today.  But, board games are still fun.  Let everybody pick their favorite game and make a night (or day) of it.

Organize Toys & Clothes

Kids might groan at the idea at first, but getting them involved in some spring cleaning usually turns into fun.  They’ll find stuff they haven’t used in a long time (some of which they’ll want to keep).  You can entice them to clean up by showing how much room they have made.

Make Treats

If a sweet treat sounds like a good idea, don’t just grab one from the cupboard.  Make something!  Get everybody involved in making a batch of cookies or Rice Krispie Treats.  Isn’t it more fun to eat something that you made?

What Are Your Favorite Spring Break Activities For Kids?

Those are seven ideas that we have for spring break that will keep kids entertained.  I know there are a million others.  What are your go-to items?  Please let me know in the comments below.

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Should Kids Have Homework In Early Grades?

At the start of the school year, I saw a lot of talk about whether kids should have homework.  Increasingly, it seems that many educators feel that homework is no longer needed.  Some schools have backed off from assigning homework entirely.  Our two younger kids (2nd grade and kindergarten) are both in the same elementary school, but there is not a set policy.  We currently have one kid that has regular homework and one that does not.  After a few months, I have my opinion on the question of should kids have homework?

The Case For Homework

Many people will argue that homework is a good thing.  There are many different arguments in favor of regular homework, even in early grades.

  • Homework establishes a pattern at a young age.  Patterns are important.
  • Assigning homework keeps kids minds working after school.
  • Working on homework gives parents more opportunities to be involved
  • Homework gives parents more insight as to what their kids are learning.

The Case Against Homework

Many now argue that kids should not receive regular homework.  This seems to be a growing trend using many different thoughts.

  • Younger kids are increasingly busy with activities and don’t have time for homework.
  • Kids minds need a break from learning and more time for fun.
  • Homework could make tired kids even more tired, which then impacts their classroom learning time negatively.

Our Mixed Homework Situation

Our kids school doesn’t have a set policy for homework.  Each teacher is allowed to do what they please.  We actually have a mixed approach this year.  Our son’s 2nd grade teacher does not regularly send homework.  He only has assigned homework to review for upcoming tests.   However, our kindergarten age daughter does have homework.  She receives a packet at the beginning of each month with about 20 worksheets.  Each worksheet takes about 10 minutes to complete.  In order to keep on top of things, we try to have her do one worksheet per month.

The mixed approach has honestly not been easy in our house.  Since our daughter has regular work where our son does not, it creates drama.  When our daughter has homework and our son does not, she doesn’t want to do it. We’ve tried getting some workbooks and worksheets to have him do, but he knows it’s not required by school.  Also, we often don’t know the day to day stuff they’re doing, so we sometimes find stuff that is too easy or too hard.

Image from Morguefile courtesy of arker

I know that many schools have school wide policies, which would probably make things easier for us.  That way it would be both kids either expecting to do homework or not having it on their list of things to do.  This mixed approach is not ideal.

Our Thoughts: Should Kids Have Homework

Having seen both sides of the coin, and at the same time nonetheless, my wife and I agree.  Our thoughts:

  • Homework is a good idea for our kids.
  • A small amount of homework is ideal for younger kids.
  • Homework sent home monthly or weekly is a better approach than having nightly assignments.
  • A school wide (or district wide) policy would be beneficial.

We’ve seen different approaches and we like a little bit of both.  Of course it isn’t up to us, but if it were, we would have our kids do assigned homework.

Readers, what do you think about homework?  Do your kids get homework assigned regularly?  Should kids should get assigned homework at a young age to prepare for what comes later?  Please let me know your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

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10 Important Money Concepts For Kids & Where Ours Stand

Our children are growing right before our eyes.  At ages 7 (my son)  and 5 (my daughter), they are learning more and understanding how the world works and how they fit in.  It is important to my wife and I to teach them good money habits and knowledge.  It seemed like a good time to see where our kids stand.  Here are 10 important money concepts for kids, and where ours stand.

Knowing What Money Is

Both of our kids now recognize money, both paper and coins.  They both know how to recognize American money, and understand that money is represented differently in different places.

Knowing That Money Holds Different Values

Our 7 year old ties his math skills with money, so he properly recognizes different amounts and how they relate to each other.  Our 5 year old still sees all bills as equal and all coins as equal, but that seems fairly normal for her age.

Realizing Larger Amounts Than What They’ve Seen

My son has a $50 bill, and that’s probably the biggest that he’s seen.  So, when he asks how much something costs and it’s a really big amount (like a new car), he grasps the concept that money is a very big and far reaching concept.  My daughter is starting to get this as well, but the size of numbers is something that she hasn’t really learned.  Both are where they ought to be.

Understand Money From Multiple Angles

Both our kids understand that money is earned and spent.  This is important as, even at this age, they see that you don’t just ‘get’ money and that it comes from somewhere.

Get The Importance Of Saving

Our oldest definitely gets this.  He loves setting aside his money for bigger things.  This is definitely a change from even a year ago, when he would often think that he should go out and spend money because he had it.  Now, he enjoys holding onto his money just as much as he enjoys spending it.

Our daughter is starting to come into her own in this area.  For her, since she doesn’t really recognize the different amounts, she just know that she ‘has money’.  For her, as long as she has some, she’s cool.  I think both have a great foundation here.

Recognize Ownership

This is one that both are working on.  They both know that money has value, so if they see it lying around, they see a way to immediately increase their ownership.  They don’t go taking it from places where it’s put away, but we’ve had a couple of times where we’ve found money in their rooms that they later admitted they found.

Know The Importance of Safekeeping

They both have a spot in their rooms where they keep their cash.  They know exactly where to go to put their money and to go look to make sure their money is safe.

There will be no lost money with these two, I’m guessing!  And that is a good thing.

Know When To Expect Money

Our kids both get an allowance.  We give them a weekly amount equal to $0.50 for each year of their age.  Friday is allowance day.  My son knows this and will ask on Friday to make sure that he gets his allowance.

Are Giving With Their Money

My daughter really aces this one.  When we talk wistfully about things that we would love (e.g. a big vacation, a new RV) but probably can’t afford, she always offers that we can put her money towards it.  Or, if she wants something (e.g. ice cream), she’ll offer to pay for the whole family so that she can get her wants fulfilled!  We don’t take her up,

Our kids wouldn't know what one of these is, but they still seem to be doing great learning about money!
Our kids wouldn’t know what one of these is, but they still seem to be doing great learning about money!

on these, but  it’s heartwarming to see her want to use her money to take care of her family.

Understand The Concept of Paperless Money

So much of what we do these days involves no actual money changing hands.  We swipe a card.  Paychecks get deposited directly into our account.  We send a payment in.

I always worried that the shift to mostly electronic handling of money would be harmful to kids learning about it.  But, our kids seem to get it.  They understand that I go to work so that we have money.  They get that we swipe a card but later have to pay for it.

All in all, our kids are pretty smart, including with money.  I’m hopeful that we’re helping them along the right path so that they grow up with a solid and wise understanding of money.

Readers, what do you think of where our kids are?  Have I forgotten anything?  What money lessons did your kids learn or do you wished they learned during the early years?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.