Positive Parenting: Megaskills 7


Are you worried about your child’s ability to care about others, to show affection, to be thoughtful?

“Don’t be so selfish.”

“You’ve got to care  about other people.”

Help your child practice caring & having consideration, being interested in others, listening to & learning from them.

I, I, I. Me, Me, Me. These aren’t musical notes. They’re the sounds children make–before they get tuned into You, You, You, & Us, Us, Us. Care is especially needed today.


Family Notes–ages 4-6

Tell your child that each day for three days, you will send each other notes.

Each note will be a special message that will say something nice. The “Something nice” will be something true that one of you has noticed about the other. It might be, “You have a nice smile” or “Your dinner last night was very good” or “I like the way you cooked the chicken.” Let children who do not yet write dictate their messages to you. Children enjoy figuring out nice things to say. Decide on a place to exchange daily notes.


How Does It Feel?–ages 4-8

Start by helping young children describe someone else’s appearance. Ask your child to describe how a certain person–a friend or a teacher–looks. Use drawings.

Ask “how do they feel” questions. Examples: “Jane has just won a race. How does she feel?” “Bill has just fallen down. How does he feel?” “What might each of these friends do, based on how they feel?”

Children will believe you really do understand when you share some “emotional” memories of your own.

Make greeting cards. Decide who needs a greeting card. Does someone need cheering up? Is a friend having a birthday? Do you know a senior citizen who is living alone? Do you have new neighbors who have just moved in?


Let family members “rate” each other. The object is to think positively & to avoid put-downs. What you hope to build is more of an “I care about how you feel” atmosphere at home. Ask:

“How well do I listen?”

“How well do I help around the house?”

“Do I ever make you feel sad? How?”

“Do I make you feel happy? How?”

Think of at least one thing you can do easily that would make your family happy. A kiss, a cookie, a flower, an encouraging word, can give a big, quick lift. Children need to know this so that they can form the habit of making other people feel good.


About Ourselves–any age

Finish these sentences separately & compare answers.

I am happy when__________.

I am afraid of__________.

I am sad when__________.

It’s funny when__________.

My favourite things include__________.

When I am alone, I__________.

I really care about__________.


Our Block–ages 4-6

Draw a neighborhood map together. In the middle of the paper, draw your own home. Draw with a free hand. Don’t worry about exact distances between places. Fill in street names & telephone numbers for places & neighbors.


People Scavenger Hunt–any age

Together go on a people scavenger hunt in your memory. Do you know anyone who speaks another language? Has been in a play? Has a relative who is more than ninety years old?

Think about someone you saw recently who is different. Examples: A street person carrying old bundles, a person in a wheelchair, a blind person.


Who Can Help Me?–any age

Make two columns on a paper. At the top of the left column write: HELP NEEDED FOR. At the top of the right column, write: WHO CAN HELP? Post the paper. Those who can help will put down their names & time they will help.       The idea is to get children in the habit of using skills to help one another.


Heroes Among Us–any age

Cut out newspaper articles about heroic acts by ordinary individuals. Examples: Someone rescues a person from a fire; a neighbor stops a robbery; a youngster saves a child from being hit by a car.

Think together about one or two caring, unselfish people, famous or not, whom you admire. What do you like about them? Are there ways to become more like them?


The Gift of Time–any age

Talk about gifts that people love to receive but that don’t cost much money, if any. Think about making gifts at home. What materials are needed to bake cookies, to sew a potholder etc.

Try to think of gifts that aren’t “things”. You might share a special skill in order to help someone.    For children, it might be: “I will play ball with my younger brother for one hour.” “I will make my sister’s bed for three days.”

Some of the best things between parent & child are still free! And one of the best & most surprising things between brothers & sisters is the caring they can show toward each other.

When Brian was nine, illness forced him to be bed-ridden for six months. Every day, his sister, Eve, age seven, would come bouncing in from school, ready for some outdoor play. But first she would go in to see Brian & ask, “Want to have my day?” Then she would launch into funny vignettes about classmates & teachers & special events. They would laugh a lot. It was a good time for both of them–the giver & the receiver.

Where had this little girl learned this secret for sharing her day? It was what she saw at home. Both of her parents worked. When they got home, they each told a story from their day, usually a funny one. She listened & she learned.



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Christmas Sunbird 2016

Dear Parents

Thank you for your patience.We faced a snag with uploading the pictures. Just a little recap: Sunbird had a fantastic Christmas 2016, with parents participating along with the children. The video coverage is 30 minutes long and anyone who wants it can bring a USB.

We were able to upload some pictures of the fun. Please enjoy them.


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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

Parents who live lives of integrity bring great blessing to their children.

‘Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.’                                           Billy Graham  

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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 6


“It’s not enough to start–you have to finish.”

“Even when you feel like quitting, don’t.”

“Keep at it; you’ll get it.”

There will always be others who are more talented than we are, who are better looking, who have more education. Even with these benefits, they still need perseverance in order to accomplish & to create. Help children get into the habit of following through & finishing.

Perseverance is the difference between those who try & those who succeed.

We seem to accept the fact that our children have short attention spans. But we should emphasize building our children’s level & length of attention & their ability to concentrate over a period of time.

“I know you’ll make it.”

“You’re doing a great job.”

There are experiences that by their very nature teach perseverance. They can’t be done in a rush because they demand a level of detail & a passage of time.

Organise family photos in chronological order. What happened first? Second?     Attach the pictures in an album with captions (explanations) that children can write.

Find all the important telephone numbers that would be useful to have in one place.           Help your child alphabetise this list. Double-check this sheet. Then enter the names & numbers in the family telephone book.

Talk with children about changes in their weight & height as they grow older.        Keep a family weekly weight check chart.

Learning to Work & Wait:

Time is a big element in perseverance. Children can practice getting beyond the need for immediate gratification, showing that they are willing to work & wait for results.

Activities that call upon children to wait are growing plants, watching their weight, learning a new skill, & preserving their health.

Everyone enjoys watching seeds sprout & come up through the earth. When they don’t, we can start again. The important point is that this activity helps children get practice in finishing a project they start. You need two or three packets of seeds, small pots or milk cartons cut down, a ruler, &, depending on the season & your household space, a sunny windowsill or outdoor garden.

Buy seeds or use seeds you have saved. Empty a few on the table beside each packet. Ask your children to look at the seeds & examine their size & color. Feel how hard they are.–Don’t let them eat the seeds. Talk about the differences. Ask children to fill each pot with about two inches of soil. Plant a few seeds in each. Place the pots on a sunny windowsill. Together read the directions on the seed packet. Talk about what you have to do to be sure the seeds grow.          Water the seeds as the directions say. Then, day by day, watch for the seeds to begin to sprout. Seeds grow slowly. It will take about ten days to see them.


Good & Good for You–ages 4-9

This activity helps young children get into the habit of eating healthy foods. Nutritious snack foods include carrot sticks & raisins, bananas rolled in chopped peanuts, celery stuffed with peanut butter, tomato or cucumber slices topped with cheese, raw vegetables with cheese dip, raisins & nut mixes etc.

Set aside part of a refrigerator shelf for children to use for these special snack foods. In this way children can make their own healthy snacks.

Check family weights. Who’s the heaviest? The lightest? Try recording weight changes in a week’s time. This is good math practice, too.


Exercise Plan–any age

Plan & carry out a family exercise program. List one or two exercises each person can do regularly. Make up a plan for a week-long, practical exercise routine.

What we ask our children to do is what we must be willing to do.

When children hang up their clothes or put away the dishes that’s school-work. School achievement depends on a child’s ability to see a job through to completion.

Children can get into the habit of not finishing what they start.                I am not convinced that we always have to finish what we start, but we have to learn to finish many things. There should be some jobs that children know they have to complete.

Children need to learn that things don’t happen all at once, & sometimes not even very quickly. Reaching a goal may take time & long days of effort & continuing work, but it’s worth it!


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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

“There is in every child at every stage anew miracle of vigorous unfolding.”

                                                                                                                                                                       Erik Erikson

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Kaikondrahalli lake excursion

In November, the children went to an interesting bird and nature watch at Kaikonreahalli lake. They observed Kingfisher birds, Cranes, Little and Big Egrets, butterflies and other interesting creepy crawlers. They enjoyed the viewing as they had just completed the Theme birds and insects. Enjoy the pics.

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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 5


“What a good idea!” “You’re always thinking of something new.” Praise your child’s initiative.

Initiative starts with a good idea, but the idea is not enough. You have to do something to make things happen. Even after you hit a home run, you still have to run around the bases.

You don’t have to go outside your home to give your child a world of experiences that build interests. I tried science in the kitchen with my young children. Let me tell you, they were not the only ones learning. We watched water come to a boil. We timed how long it took to make macaroni soft. We defrosted ice cubes in the sun & in shade. We put wooden & metal spoons into hot water & then touched them, sometimes with a burning surprise. And we talked about what we were learning.

Busy fathers may think that to make up for lost time with the kids, they need to sacrifice, to do activities like going to museums or the zoo or a show. Not so. There really is great educational value in activities such as going with children to the bank & to the grocery store…or even down to the basement.


Machines: Look & Listen–ages 4-9

Use the house itself. How does it work? What are all those pipes for? Don’t forget those plumbing pipes. Kitchens make noises. Listen & name them–the refrigerator’s hum, the stove’s purr, the fan’s whoosh.

Look at a bicycle. Peek beneath the hood of the family car. Can you name the parts?

Take a good look at all the appliances at home. You might want to tackle the bigger question of where all this electricity comes from in the first place. When travelling past a power plant or a dam, you might mention that little old toaster at home.


Machines: Please touch–ages 4-9

Oh, the joy of taking things apart & maybe even putting them together again. How do flashlights work? Find out what happens when one battery is taken away or put in upside down. The beauty of flashlights is they can be made to work so easily.

If you have a small, broken machine, such as a clock or pencil sharpener, & you don’t care whether it works again, try this wonderful activity: Put the machine & some useful tools, such as a screwdriver, on a table. Allow your child to take the object apart. Stand by in case you’re needed, but do let your child try to put it back together without your help.


Water, Water Everywhere–ages 4-9

Put water into an ice tray & set it in the freezer. How long does it take to freeze? Try this with different levels of water in different sections of the tray.

Put a few ice cubes on the table. How long do they take to melt? Why are they melting? Put them in different places around the room. Do they melt faster in some places than in others?

Float an egg in both salt & fresh water. Which water holds the egg higher? Salt water is more buoyant.

Evaporation: Put some water in an open dish in a sunny place. Let your child make a mark to show the water level. Use another dish with an equal amount of water, & put this one in the shade. Which one dries first?


Hot & Cold–ages 4-9

To check on the temperature around you, use a house-&-garden thermometer. What happens when the thermometer is in the refrigerator? In the freezer? Atop the radiator? In the sun?


Light & Shadow–ages 4-9

Use a strong light bulb indoors. Try some shadow play on a dark background.

Use a mirror to catch light from the sun. Then move the mirror, throwing the light in different places around the room.

Put a teaspoon in a glass of water that is two-thirds full. Looking at it sideways, children see the “disconnected” parts of the spoon.


Plants & How they grow–ages 4-9

Using aluminum foil, cover the leaves on one side of a sun-loving plant. Keep this covering on for a week. What do the leaves look like when you take off the foil?


Let’s Get Organised: There are mornings when you wake up & you just know it’s a day to get organised. Eliminate that mess you’ve been avoiding:


Nuts & Bolts, Pins & Needles–ages 4-6

Organise the toolbox, the jewelry box, the dressers, sewing boxes, bookcase, the kitchen cupboard or refrigerator, the family linen closet or a closet in your child’s room. First talk about a good way to organise the area.


Gather & Go–ages 7-9

Teach children how to collect & organise materials. Start a project, big or little: A puppet stage, a dog house, a party, baking cookies. Talk with children about what they will need. (Young children will need your advice.)

List what you have to purchase & what is already at home. Then, with your child, collect the essentials before you start the project.


The Family Calendar–any age

Get a plain calendar with large squares for each day. Talk about the days, weeks, & months spread out before you. Start filling in the squares with special days, such as birthdays, upcoming events & appointments.

Let your child decorate the calendar. Use the calendar for generating children’s suggestions; for example, list special foods children want or ideas for places to go on family outings.


Organising for Children

Ask your children which of these ideas they’d like to try first.

Provide some kind of work space, no matter how small, for each child. This can vary from a lapboard that children use while they sit on the bed to a piece of furniture to a dropleaf shelf that is attached to the wall, if apartment regulations allow.

Try the idea of a small piece of colorful rug for a young child’s work area on the floor. This helps cut down on the tendency for children to covet the same work space, even in big rooms.

To make communal work space for young children doing artwork, put a heavy plastic tablecloth over the dining room table & an old shower curtain or newspaper beneath.

Give children a place to put their possessions. This should be an “untouchable” place. No one is to disturb these things. The children’s end of this bargain is that they have to put the things away neatly. This place could be a box or drawer that fits under a bed, or a shelf above it.

Provide pegs so that children can hang up their own clothes. Also, make sure that shelves are reachable so that children are able to put away toys when they’re finished with them.

Use what’s in the apartment. Put a piece of wood on top of a radiator (except in winter), & you have a shelf. Place a large sheet of wood or Masonite over a bathtub, & you have a good size work area. And use wall space. Hang pegboards to hold carpentry tools & toys.


Junk Day–any age

Give your child paper bags & these instructions: “Today is junk day. Go through your closet/drawers/bedroom & take out all the junk or give-aways that you want to get rid of. I pay for junk!”


Offering Without Being Asked–ages 7-12

Ask children to choose one job that they’re often asked to do: Taking out the garbage, cleaning their room, washing clothes etc. Suggest that for two days they do this task before someone asks them to do it. Talk about it. Did they get the task done before someone reminded them? Did it make them feel good? Did they offer to help others? How did they feel?


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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

On hand development: “The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.”  Jacob Bronowski

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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 4



Check yourself. When you hear yourself saying or thinking about your children, “Why are you always late?” “Where have you been?” “Why can’t you start acting more grown up?”, you are hearing the need to help your child become more responsible.

When you hear yourself saying about your children, “I can count on you,” “You are reliable & dependable,” “When you tell me something, I can believe you,” you are hearing yourself praise your responsible child.

The broad definition I have chosen for responsibility is “doing what’s right”.

Teaching children to be responsible involves finding ways to help children feel competent, to know what’s right & to do what’s right. If children need to wake up on time, you show them how to use an alarm clock & expect them to use it. If a child lies to you, you let your child know that lying is wrong & that it works to destroy the precious trust you share.

Helping Children Do For Themselves: Children need to learn to take care of themselves–even if parents have nothing to do all day but take care of them. When children hang up their clothes or wash their feet, it does not seem like schoolwork. But this practice in self-reliance carries over.


Body Beautiful–ages 4-9

For this activity, you need a marker, a pencil, & paper. Talk with your child about personal cleanliness & why it’s important. Talk about washing face & hands, combing hair, & brushing teeth. Include any other parts of the body that children tend to get dirty. Make a list of what needs to be done to be clean. Post a simple chart like the one below.




Sun.   Mon.   Tue.   Wed.  Thu.  Fri.  Sat.



I brushed

my teeth.


I washed

my face.


I washed

my hands.


I combed

my hair.



To provide incentive, especially at first, you may want to think of a small reward. It might be a new brand of toothpaste that your child picks out or a new toothbrush or a special brand of soap.

Check the chart daily at first, then weekly. Pretty soon you won’t need a chart. The idea is to make good grooming your child’s habit.


Clothes–ages 4-9

Picking Clothes: With your youngster, put clothes together in places where they can be found. One way is to label the outside of dresser drawers. Talk about appropriate clothes to wear in different weather. Turn this into a game. Pick a thick sweater & ask, “Do you wear this on hot or cold days?” Do the same for shorts, mittens, & so forth.

Before children go to bed at night, ask them to think about clothes to wear the next day. Let them lay out these clothes in advance. Ask your child to check to see that the clothes are clean & ready. This can save time & stress in the morning.

Washing Clothes: Pick up any detergent box. Reading it together with your child will immediately broaden your child’s vocabulary with words like “formulated” & “cycle”.

Whether you are washing an item by hand or in the machine, with your child, move through the process step by step, preferably with one or just a few items, treating spots first, if necessary. Talk about separating colors, then talk about the temperature of the water, then the soap suds, then the machine instructions, then the rinsing, then the hanging up or the machine drying. Go through all the steps with your child watching & helping. It may take time to graduate to the washing machine.

Fixing Clothes: Sewing activities not only teach responsibility but also build children’s hand-eye coordination, an essential for learning to read & write. You need needle, thread, scissors, buttons, & children’s clothes that need repairing.

With your child, pick an item that needs a button sewn on. Together select the necessary tools. Look for a needle with a large eye. Show your child how to thread it. Take time to illustrate how to do all this safely. Then show step by step how to sew on the button.

Now watch as your child replaces a button on some old clothes. Don’t expect the job to be perfect, & resist doing it over. With some colourful fabric scraps, you can help children move to making gifts & other items around the home. Placemats, book covers, & banners are easy-to-do items.


A Special Place–ages 4-9

Here’s a responsibility builder for the early school years. It calls for setting up a special home-school box to help children keep track of their belongings.

You need a cardboard box big enough to hold supplies & some clothing. Add some magazine pictures, markers, glue, & scissors, & you’re ready to make a Special Place.

Children decorate these boxes with pictures, words, artwork, & their own names in big, bold letters.


Helping Children Do For The Family: Overall, responsibility means that we can “count on” our children & they can count on us. Here are some “count on each other” activities:


Promises! Promises!–ages 4-9

When asked to do a task, children often make promises. They will not fully realise what keeping these promises involves. Their intentions are sincere. They want to please. Here’s a way to get children talking about promises & consequences.

Talk about what happens when people don’t do the things they are responsible for. Examples: Plants that don’t get watered wilt. Animals (& children) that don’t get fed whine. Garbage that isn’t taken out smells.

Discuss the effects on others when tasks are not done. Is it fair? Is it responsible? Is that why carrying out promises is so important?


Taking Care of Things–any age

Children have been known to be careless about property–their own & others. Help children be responsible for caring for what they are supposed to care for.

A pet is a good example, it needs daily care. How much is your child willing & able to do? Write down what you have both decided on, & post this list in a prominent place.

Or you may be considering a home computer. These are fragile machines that need careful operators. Make sure that children know what is expected. Read the operating manual together. Go over the steps one by one. Children need to know not only how to run the machine but how to care for it.


Don’t Worry: You Won’t Be Late–any age

This activity helps teach children the importance of showing people that they can be depended on, rain or shine.

This activity helps kids learn to wake up on time on their own. You’ll need an alarm clock, paper bag & a piece of paper for each family member.

Write “wake up” on one piece of paper & “wake me up” on the others. Put the papers into the bag. Everybody picks one piece. The person who picks the slip marked “wake up” will do the job of waking up the others the next morning.

The “wake-up” person sets the alarm clock for five minutes before the wake-up time. You’ll find out the next day if the “wake-up” person was dependable. What happens if the “wake-up” person is late? Will someone be late to work or school?

Do your children wake themselves up regularly? If not, invest in an inexpensive alarm clock. Talk about how people worry when those they are expecting are late.


What do I do? Helping children think responsibly about choices & values: Children need to know what parents think, but moreover, they need to know how to figure out where they themselves stand. Children need to see a sample. All the lectures in the World will do no good if children see that it’s just “talk”. It’s hard also when parents seem too good to be true. Have we never been tempted to do anything wrong? It can help when we tell about a temptation & how we handled it.




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A Trip To Claystation

Recently we took the children to ‘Claystation,’ a studio that is open for a presentation for clay art. Catherine showed the children around to get them interested what can be made out of clay. All the children really enjoyed that time and got  some hands on experience.

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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of or children.”                                                                                                                                                 Nelson Mandela

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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 3


The value of believing in effort over native ability is that you can help children do something about their level of effort. It’s harder to help them do something about their level of ability. Ability seems set in stone; effort can be influenced; it’s open to change.

In Texas, elementary school children having difficulties with subtraction were divided into four groups–A,B,C,D. Each group worked on its own with a packet of materials. An aide checked the work in groups A,B, & C every eight minutes. As the children came to a new section, the aide gave them the new instructions. To group A the aide said, “You’ve been working hard.” To group B she said, “You need to work hard.” Group C received no comment. Group D had no involvement with the aide other than to hear her read the instructions to everyone.

Group A, that was told, “You’ve been working hard,” actually did work harder than the others. They completed 63 percent more problems & got three times as many right on the test that followed this training. They also said that they felt more confident about the test & their ability to deal with the problems they would face.

We can talk children into making more effort. They do not have to be afraid. We can help them see that more effort can mean better results.

Learning About Effort: Here are some suggestions on how to give kids the opportunity to know effort when they see it & to practice effort on their own.


My Day–any age

Spend time talking with your children about the pleasures of your work & of effort. Try to be as specific as possible. Don’t stint on letting children in on the everyday efforts & goings-on at work & at home that illustrate effort & the sense of satisfaction that comes with it. Not all problems are solved quickly or easily. Let children in on your frustrations. But when you do talk about the day’s problems, try to discuss what you are doing & what your children think can be done to solve these problems. Ask children about their day too. Urge them to follow your lead in talking about the little successes.


The Extra Mile–any age

Help your children know what we really mean when we say “make an effort.” Take time to point out to children those people who are making that effort. Point to others who are making an effort & showing how much you respect this.


Homework & Effort: Asian children go to school 240 days a year, while American children go only 180 days a year. Asians believe that hard work makes a difference, & they let their children know it. The Japanese count on persistence & patience to win the day. They just plain outwork everyone else. They have long-term perspective, & they’re persistent. They work long hours; they live in accommodations Americans would not accept. Our young people need to learn about endurance & to be taught the importance of effort.

Parental Infrastructure: At least three kinds of parental discipline patterns have been identified.

Permissive: Adult makes few demands on child & sees child as own self-regulator. Authoritarian: Adult has set standard of conduct in mind & sets out to shape child to fit it, using force & punishment to curb child. Authoritative: Adult sets standards & asserts control but sees child’s need for reason & understanding.

The trick, & it’s a tough one, is for parents & for teachers to be authoritative without being authoritarian. It’s not easy.


A Study Place–ages 4-9

Children need their own place at home to do schoolwork. Fancy equipment is not needed. Use old furniture. Cut it down to size as needed. You need a table or desk, a chair, a light.

Walk through your house with your child to find that special study corner. It need not be big, but it needs to be personal. Paint cardboard boxes or orange crates for bookcases. Latex paint is easy to clean. Encourage your child to decorate the study corner; a plant & a bright desk blotter do wonders.

A study place can be a desk, or it can be a modest lapboard for a child to use atop a bed.


A Homework System–ages 10-12

There is a better way than nagging children every day about schoolwork. This activity enables children to keep track–on their own–of what has to be done. You need paper & a marker.

Use a sturdy, large piece of paper to make a homework chart that can be posted on the wall. Here’s what one looks like:



Days     English   Math  S.Studies  Science

















Make checks to represent school assignments. To show completed work, the check gets circled. Attach to the chart a marker or pen so that it is always handy.

Talk About Homework: Talk about assignments with your child after they’re completed. This is more of a conversation than a checkup. Was the assignment difficult? Easy? Would your child like to know more? Consider follow-up trips to a museum or library.


Our Home: A Learning Place–any age

Help your home (even if it’s a small apartment) convey the message that people learn here.

You want children to be reading as often as possible. Let there be books & magazines everywhere, including the bathroom. Let your children see you reading, & talk with them about what you’ve read.

You want children to be writing as often as possible. Put notepads & pencils in a number of places around the house, including next to the telephone, for messages. In the kitchen use them for grocery lists, & keep them next to the bed for putting down that brilliant middle-of-the-night thought.

Use a bulletin board or magnets on the refrigerator to display children’s schoolwork & artwork. Or use an indoor clothesline with clothespins. Youngsters enjoy changing these displays themselves.

Time For Studying: Some children are faster to finish classroom work than others. When you talk with your children about schoolwork, ask if they think they are putting in enough time to do it really well.

Effort is Pleasure: Talk about the pleasure a writer gets, an artist, etc. Children need to know that effort is the path we take to achieve mastery.


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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.”

                                                                                                                                                                      E.M. Foster

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Birthdays, Birthdays, Birthdays

Every birthday is important. It marks a year of growth, progress and accomplishment. Sunbird is always ready to host a little appreciation feast for the one who has completed  another year. We are proud of all of you, our Sunbirds!




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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 2


When they have it, it shows: You see your children wanting to do things, eager to learn. They do schoolwork & household jobs without a lot of nagging. They make plans for the next day, for the next week.

Parents can help with activities that generate a child’s excitement in learning. But children have to catch this fire & start fueling up on their own. In this chapter are activities that help children gain a sense of discipline it takes to stay motivated, to work against discouragement, & to face competition & challenge. It helps to learn:

–How to break down jobs into manageable “bites.”

–How to set & keep to time limits.

There was a picture in the paper the other day of a ninety-one-year-old woman who had just climbed Mount Fuji. Now that’s what I call motivation. She was quoted as saying, “You always feel good when you’ve made a goal. You need goals.”

A special ingredient found in motivation is the ability to work against discouragement & to keep on going. Attitude counts for so much. How do people become motivated? We can’t catch “fire” for our kids, but they can catch some of our fire. The fire does not have to be a bonfire. A low, low simmer will do. One way is to share our own excitement. Remember, children are born motivated, not bored.


Just Outside–any age

While your children are young, start to share & discover the joy & mystery of the World: a walk as it’s turning dark, a stroll through light rain. Talk together about what you’re sensing & feeling. Stay up together to see the moon rise & get up early one day to watch the sun rise. Use a magnifying glass to look closely at those small objects that fascinate small children. Listen to the wind & the birds. Smell the rain & the burning wood in the fireplace. Observation & use of the senses are crucial to a scientist & to a poet.


Shopping Center Stroll–ages 4-7

Most of the time we shop at breakneck speed with kids being dragged along. Try a walk with no other purpose than to show your children some of what goes on backstage at the local stores. Go into the florist’s & watch the making of corsages. And go “backstairs” in the supermarket, if permitted. That’s where the supplies are kept & where the meat is cut…where the action that makes the market look good takes place.


Sitting & Watching–ages 4-7

There’s a lot to be seen & learned while watching the workers at a construction site, at an airport or rail station, or at your own corner.


Getting Around–ages 8-12

Learning to get around without a car can be a valuable lesson. Gather bus route maps & schedules to a place around town. Let children use the schedules to figure out what transportation is available, how much time it will take, & how much it will cost.


Beyond Nagging: I’d like to think that nagging works because it is such a handy thing to do. But like millions of parents, I have found that nagging can do just the opposite of what it is intended to do. It can motivate kids not to do things. Cutting down on nagging, in contrast, can be a motivating factor, one that works for both parent & child.


The No-Nag Writing System–any age

For practice, announce that for five minutes no one will talk. Instead you will send notes. Try this out at the breakfast table. Choose at least one nagging problem that is important to you & your child. Promise each other that instead of nagging, for one whole week you will send each other reminder notes.

Set up a message center for these reminders. A bulletin board in the kitchen or family room is a good place. Or post reminders around the house. Leave the notes in the bathroom, on the stairs, or on other places where they will be seen. A note left on the pillow always seems to work!


The First Step–any age

The old Chinese saying is true: “The longest journey starts with a single step.” The first step in doing something can be the hardest.

Ask children to tell you about any first times they remember. It might be the first day at school, the first grade they received on a paper, the first time they tried to ride a bike or swim the pool.

First steps are hard. We tend to say, “Aw, come on, that’s easy,” but it’s not. Our goal in helping to motivate children is to help them gain the optimism & the courage to take more first steps. That is the lesson we have to teach, & one way to teach it is by sharing our experiences.


Time Me–ages 4-6

This activity will help your child better understand the difference between “a few seconds” & “a few minutes.” You need a clock or watch with a second hand.

Ask your child to watch the second hand for five seconds. Together count off the seconds. Put this into action. Time it again & see how many times your child can clap in five seconds. Now have your child watch the clock for one minute. Then time it again & see how far you can both count in one minute. Together read a book for five minutes. Time yourselves. How many pages did you read? Hold your breath for five seconds. Let your child time you. Then trade places. Time yourselves as you both say the alphabet aloud. Together time a traffic light as you stand at a street corner.


Tell Me–ages 4-9

Teachers in the early grades tell us that children have trouble listening. Think of a real job at home that your child can do. It might be setting the table, taking out the garbage, bringing in the newspaper, hanging up clothes. Think of three or four instructions for this job. Ask your child to listen carefully as you say them. Example: “Take out four forks, four knives, & four spoons. Put them on the table in four place settings. Put the fork on the left, the knife & spoon on the right.”

Let your child give you instructions to follow. They can be as easy or as complicated as you & your child want. In this way, you individualise this activity to suit your child.


Excuses Don’t Count–ages 7-12

Make a chore chart for the hours between five p.m. & bedtime. Ask children to choose a time to do each chore. Write those times on the chart. The chart might look like this:

   Chore            Time       Done

Setting the Table    5:30

Doing homework       7:30


Talk about when they did the tasks. Did they do them all? If not, did they have real reasons or excuses?

Families need their own reward system. It’s important that the rules be clear, the system fair & consistently followed. Whether it’s a present, a grade, a raise, or a word of praise & a kiss, a reward is very sweet, indeed.

Rewards: This scene captures for me the power of rewards. It was a hot summer Saturday in a restaurant in a small town. A little girl had just opened the door. Her parents were busy behind the counter. And this child, age eight, was busy, too. Carrying her parents’ laundry, she came through the door with a smile on her face that said to all of us, “I’m not bored. I’m happy. I am doing something important.” That was her inner reward. Her parents’ praise was the external one.

Competition: There are some basic principles of competition that every child should learn, or at least listen to. To compete, you have to be able to lose. You have to be willing to fail but not feel like a failure. You have to get up off the floor & try again.



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