Indulge in Build-It-Yourself Projects for Parents and Children

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paper boats_royaltyfree

What better way to get involved with your children than to build with them – literally! The Build It Yourself program enables families to work together with their children in order to create tons of great projects, arts and crafts, games and creative inventions that not only engage them intellectually but help them to develop individually as well. Spending time with children of all ages is so important, especially with younger children, as it helps them to grow into well rounded adults that have a healthy understanding of relationships, life and self improvement. The Build It Yourself platform is filled with not only ideas to implement with your children, but also step-by-step guides and instructions as well. Many parents prefer to participate in the workshops available with their children that can range from interactive games that develop key skills in children or explore various techniques on how to interact effectively with your child. Other parents choose to let the children decide which projects they would like to take advantage of in order to keep them engaged and interested at all times.

Learning to use the Build-It-Blocks

One of the most convenient aspects of the Build It Yourself platform is the resource of construction materials that allow parents to build complex projects with their kids quickly, using things like logos, bridges, nature items such as leaves and sticks and even household items like paper towel and toilet paper rolls. Kids love to create homemade graffiti with the simple tips given conveniently on the website, as well as develop their own creations with arts and crafts items. Many parents choose to create some of the building blocks beforehand in order to create a more pleasant atmosphere for younger children that may not be able to configure the pieces together. However, most parents like to keep their children involved in every facet from start to finish to help them develop the cognitive and motor skills from the process.

Create Your Own Adventure in Invention Universe

Parents and children are encouraged to join the Invention Universe to create and showcase their own inventions. This interactive platform allows you to visually create your own invention, specifically choosing various elements and designs that kids can choose from. This process enables families to spend quality time together while doing something that builds the character, intellect and skills of their children. Promoting healthy motor skills and stimulated intellect, even in young children can be greatly beneficial to their futures. In fact, many parents that have utilized the program state that the time they spent with their children created some of the fondest memories made at home. After creating just one or two Build-It-Yourself projects, many families incorporate this program into their weekly routine!

Find out more about Build-It-Yourself here.

Kids need chores!

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As we strive to raise people of great character, chores can teach most of the lessons we want our children to learn. Helpfulness. Participation. Confidence. Persistence. Responsibility. When we make our children an integral part of the management of our home and family, they become more connected to our family.

Doctor G 2013Doctor G (Deborah Gilboa, MD) – Family Physician, international speaker, author and mom of four – is the host of a new television show on WQED-TV:  “iQ: smartparent!” From one minute videos on making your life easier while building kids’ character to her downloadable guides(chores at every age, boundaries for tech use and more) Doctor G makes caregiving more simple and more effective.
Find her on Facebook or Twitter!


Building Social Skills – for baby and mum too!

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Meeting other mums is a fantastic way to help your baby or child socialize and building your child’s ability to socialize with a variety of people is an essential life skill that is often overlooked.

While you might feel a bit nervous about meeting new people taking your baby with you is an instant ice-breaker! Forget about your nerves and give it a go. Joining a class which combines music and movement is a great way for you and your baby to bond. Blow away those cobwebs and get out of the house and you might even burn a few calories too! After the class why not stick around and chat to other mums, who knows you may make some new friends. Check out your local library, health club and village hall for some fun activities near you. To inspire you find out about what happened when we attended a class.

My 16 month old daughter and I both love music, so what better way to spend quality time with your little one than at music orientated classes?  We have been to a variety of classes since she has been born, from baby massage, baby yoga but the music and sensory classes always seem to be a particular favourite for us both.

I chose a local class, in the hope that we would both make friends for the future but also one that fitted in with our nap and mealtime routine. There is nothing worse than trying to get your toddler to interact when they are tired and crabby, so I would definitely recommend checking the timetables beforehand.

I have to admit to being a little nervous as I had never been to classes like this with my eldest daughter but given that the little one will dance around the lounge at any given moment, I figured that she would probably be much less self-conscious than me!

The class started with us all sitting around in a big circle but as the music and singing started, the little ones were on their feet and dancing around like they had always known each other. Although the mums were not quite as eager, by the end of it I was amazed at how easily we were all singing (some of us admittedly not in tune) and laughing together. I was amazed at how I had forgotten the words to some much loved songs and my mistakes made for much amusement but it certainly broke the ice!

Many classes offer “taster” sessions, so you can get an idea of the kind of activities you will be doing but I do think that sometimes you need to try things a few times to see how your toddler reacts. Some children take to things instantly, whereas others need a little time to get used to new surroundings, people and activities.

I loved that the premise of the classes we chose are to help

  • social and emotional skills

  • confidence and co-ordination

  • stimulate the senses and imagination.

We managed to combine music, singing, movement, sensory stimulation, speech and a lot of fun into one class ….. which was not only great for my daughter but has helped to cement some great friendships with the mums too.


About the Author:
Donna Pinnell is a busy mum of 2 daughters. Having spent a large part of her career as a PA, she realized how much she enjoyed writing and is now author of award winning blog, Little Lilypad Co and her new project The Rose Diaries.  She is a regular contributor to a number of parenting websites including Mumsclub.


How To Become Your Autism Child’s Advocate While Maintaining Your Household, part 2: Scheduling

Posted by LServati  |  No comments

In the previous post, How To Become Your Autism Child’s Advocate While Maintaining Your Household, we learned about fundraising tips. While you are busy organizing your fundraiser, it is important to keep your family’s needs in mind. It takes a lot of preparation to keep everything running smoothly in a family that has a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are many things you have to consider when planning for your child’s and your family’s daily schedule. I have found that if I follow this checklist, everyone involved is taken care of:

Make sure that you have a separate schedule for everything related to your child’s educational, physical, emotional and sensory needs. If someone else is helping you to take or pick up your child from his or her school, doctors, therapists or other activities, you will want to keep them apprised of this schedule. I keep mine updated on my phone, but I periodically shake things up by alternating between a dry-erase and printed, color-coded monthly calendar that I keep posted on the refrigerator for everyone else to reference!

Set aside a regular time to spend with your family. Regardless of the responsibilities you have as an adult, your first priority is as a parent to your child. I have found that if I have arranged a regularly scheduled “family time” for us to play our favorite board games, watch a movie or enjoy an adventure to one of the local museums, everyone in my family looks forward to it!

Your spouse also needs you to make time for him, or her. The support that I receive from my husband, and the strength from my Lord, motivate me to do what I can for others. I sometimes get so involved in what I am doing, either for our children’s school or the local autism support group, I find that time has gotten away from me. Please don’t let this happen to you, schedule a “date night” for you and your spouse and mark it on the calendar!

Lastly, you need to ask yourself the following…“Got ME time?” I know that you are probably laughing hysterically but it is very crucial to make time for yourself! Everyone needs some individual time for solitude, whether it’s just having a designated quiet time once a week or being able to meet a friend for a soda. Making the decision to take care of yourself will be well worth every minute!

By following the tips mentioned above, you can advocate on your autism child’s behalf while still maintaining a sense of order in your home. Last Fall I started as an apprentice co-leader in my local parent-led autism support group and then was handed the reins, as the new support group leader, in January 2013. This new advocacy role has helped me to benefit from the social aspect and what I can learn from the other parents while I share what I know with them. I was so busy with April being Autism Awareness Month that I have had to constantly remind myself to not let my various advocacy projects interfere with my responsibilities to my family.

Please join me in celebrating Autism Awareness Month each April and learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorders. The alarming new statistics recently released by the U.S. center for Disease Control state that 1 in every 50 children in the United States are being diagnosed with Autism. Are YOU up to the extraordinary challenge of being the one to “Think Differently” to help someone with Autism accomplish better grades in school, achieve a career in a field that interests him or her, or even volunteer to help in childcare at an Autism support group? It will go a long way in making a difference in your community, the families affected by Autism and in how each of us perceives individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. I know from my own experience that I am better for the time that I have spent as Nathan’s Mom and working as a Special Education Substitute Teacher.

If you are looking for a support group, the Autism Society’s chapters provide a number of ways in which individuals and families can obtain support and share their experiences with others in their communities. Their chapters are an obvious place to turn for encouragement, accurate information and education. Also, there are support groups on various social sites that you can join, or check out anonymously. Search for those in your area or state then widen your perimeter. If you are, or someone you know might be, interested in reading more about our journey on the Autism Spectrum, please take the time to check out Nathan’s Voice.


LorrieServatiLorrie Servati is a mom of four wonderful children and married to her wonderful husband of twelve years. She also has an energetic three year old grandson and an outgoing one year old granddaughter. Lorrie’s youngest son, Nathan, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) almost five years ago. This motivated her to become an advocate for autism and eventually all special needs children that she came in contact with while either substitute teaching or volunteering at the elementary school.

Lorrie started blogging June 2011 in order to document her son’s autism journey and share the resources she found with other families. Nathan’s Voice was created to bring understanding, awareness, and acceptance of autism to everyone who takes the time to read about their experiences.

How To Become Your Autism Child’s Advocate While Maintaining Your Household

Posted by LServati  |  1 comment

Those of you who follow our family autism blog will know that, besides my being Nathan’s Mom and Advocate, I am very involved in my son’s school and in our local community. I started out by just volunteering, in each of my son’s classrooms and in the elementary school office. Three years ago, I became a Substitute Teacher in my boys’ elementary school where I enjoy working with children. I have had the privilege of being able to “pay it forward” in the special education department at my son’s elementary school. Our family has been fortunate enough to have had an awesome team of individuals that have used their knowledge to help our son use his coping skills to navigate his always unpredictable journey on the Autism Spectrum.

My loving husband, our very supportive extended family, and having the faith to rely on my precious Lord, are what has given me the strength to get through the difficult times before and since Nathan’s diagnosis five years ago. Within a few weeks of Nathan’s diagnosis, I started our Family Autism Team “Nathan’s Voice” and we walked in support of our son, Nathan, in the 2008 Oklahoma Walk Now for Autism Speaks held in Oklahoma City. As the team captain, I had organized two large indoor sales to benefit autism, one for each of the next two years, as our big annual team fundraiser for the annual walk. I hadn’t realized how taking on this responsibility would affect my family.

It is very important to remember these tips when organizing team fundraisers:

  • Pick a fundraiser that is realistic and one that is not too complicated. It is better to start with something small and then decide to add more features, after having it become a huge success and recruiting more volunteers. Find a location for your fundraiser, possibly an indoor venue so that you don’t have to worry about the weather and you will most likely have more volunteers. If a local church is willing to allow you to have your fundraiser indoors, you should list them as a sponsor on advertising!
  • Select a tentative date and the times for your fundraiser. It is good to have another date available, in the event of bad weather or other scheduling issues. Be sure to check with each of your volunteers, suppliers and sponsors whom you would like present at your fundraiser.
  • Make a detailed schedule so that each of your volunteers will know when they are expected to work during the fundraiser.
  • Remember to send each of them a friendly reminder, thanking him/her for the help each of them will be providing during your fundraiser!
  • If you will be using price tags, and want a certain format used, you may want to create your own custom template in Excel and share it with them via email. I have found that you can insert a small logo, personalizing them to advertise your organization.
  • Put something together as a personal “Thank You” to present to each of your volunteers after your fundraiser is complete. Possibly, a small token of your appreciation or along the lines of what your organization represents or provides to the community.

While you are busy organizing your fundraiser, it is important to keep your family’s needs in mind. We hope that you enjoyed this post and we will be following it up with:  How To Become Your Autism Child’s Advocate While Maintaining Your Household, part 2: Scheduling.


LorrieServatiLorrie Servati is a mom of four wonderful children and married to her wonderful husband of twelve years. She also has an energetic three year old grandson and an outgoing one year old granddaughter. Lorrie’s youngest son, Nathan, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) almost five years ago. This motivated her to become an advocate for autism and eventually all special needs children that she came in contact with while either substitute teaching or volunteering at the elementary school.

Lorrie started blogging June 2011 in order to document her son’s autism journey and share the resources she found with other families. Nathan’s Voice was created to bring understanding, awareness, and acceptance of autism to everyone who takes the time to read about their experiences.

Texas LEARNS – The Texas Adult Education & Family Literacy Collaboration

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mother-reading-to-kids_royaltyfreeKeeping both adults and children engaged in various literacy activities can make a world of difference in the professional world. For this reason, the Texas LEARNS program has established a national presence of learning centers and outreach programs that are geared towards helping adults and family members in and strengthen their literacy abilities. This not only helps adults to excel both academically and professionally, but also enables them to help their younger family members develop a higher competency level when it comes to reading, writing and vocal communication. One of the many facets of the Texas LEARNS program is the newly implemented Project GREAT program. Encouraging families to work together towards educational and self-improvement goals is one of the main missions of the Texas LEARNS program, and the core value that the Project GREAT program was built on.

Understanding the Basics of Project GREAT

In essence, the Project GREAT Program provides national resources, support and academic materials needed to educate adults, who in turn, can educate their families with strong literacy competency skills. In an ever changing and advancing world, these skills are of vital importance to separate both adults and developing children from the fierce competition of the work world. Project GREAT offers plenty of online resources including lesson plans, development charts and progress assessment reports to accurately determine and improve progress levels for both adults and family members. According to statistics, families that involve themselves in the learning experience together are able to excel almost 57% more effectively than when learning individually. This is based on the fact that the younger generations are more likely to want to succeed when they feel that their elders are learning with them, rather than dictating the material to them.

State Leadership Activities

If you really want to help your family excel academically and increase their literacy abilities than the Texas LEARN program is exactly what you need. This program offers tons of effective state leadership activities to keep the whole family involved and continuously testing their abilities. This program offers more than just literacy programs. Both children and adults can take advantage of distance learning programs that encourage the development of new abilities and introduce new cultures to the entire family. Many choose to enhance their literacy skills by learning a foreign language or mastering their first language. Parents can find plenty of educational academies that can help enrich the educational experience to new levels. For those who are not to proficient in math skills, the Project LEARN program offers an extensive Math Initiative program that engages family members to develop and strengthen their math skills while incorporating them into their daily lives – hence making learning a truly hands-on experience.

Click here to Learn More About the Texas LEARNS Program

Mastering the Essential Skills of Sportsmanship While Having Autism Spectrum Disorder

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     I am honored to have been asked to write a guest post for Character Booster. As a parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I mostly write about how autism affects our family, the education of our son, and how difficult social interaction is for him. Autism can best be described as a brain-based disorder that impairs the development of a child’s social behavior and communication. I want to give others an insight into my son’s extraordinary journey on the autism spectrum.

  Over the last few years, my husband and I have given our two boys, Vincent and Nathan, more freedom to play with and get to know the other children in our neighborhood. It has been a good experience, and experiment, in social interaction for our sons, especially for Nathan. Occasionally, there may be an afternoon when Vincent has had to escort Nathan back to the house because he has had a “meltdown”. Most of the time, he is able to “self-regulate” and rejoin his friends until it is time to come in for dinner.

     When the weather will not permit us to be outside, we will play some of our favorite games such as Sorry!™, Monopoly™, Aggravation™ or something special on the Wii™. If we decide to play a game on the Wii, it will usually depend on what we are in the mood for. Each of us gets to choose a game that we want to share with the rest of the family. The diversity in the skills that each of us have, the variety of sports that each of us chooses and the difference in levels of patience are something that makes our family time one of quality and quite memorable. Individual strengths, and weaknesses, make each one of us unique and special. While Vincent may be good at Frisbee Golf, Matt likes the Tiger Woods™ golf and I enjoy the 100-pin bowling, Nathan is exceptionally good at Table Tennis. Our family has learned that no matter how much that we struggle with a certain skill set we must remember that we are there to support one another through a difficult level and to cheer each other on to success!

     We are extremely proud of how Nathan has learned to master the concept of individual game rules, take turns in playing games and how important general sportsmanship is in everyday life. His slightly older brother, Vincent, has been essential in helping Nathan accomplish these motor and social skills. My husband and I are very blessed to have such wonderful children and to know that each of our boys can do, and will continue to be able to do, anything that they set their minds on.

LorrieServatiLorrie Servati is a mom of four wonderful children and married to her wonderful husband of twelve years. She also has an energetic three year old grandson and an outgoing one year old granddaughter. Lorrie’s youngest son, Nathan, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) almost five years ago. This motivated her to become an advocate for autism and eventually all special needs children that she came in contact with while either substitute teaching or volunteering at the elementary school.

Lorrie started blogging June 2011 in order to document her son’s autism journey and share the resources she found with other families. Nathan’s Voice was created to bring understanding, awareness, and acceptance of autism to everyone who takes the time to read about their experiences.

A Father’s Call to Books- Read! And Read Often

Posted by KWiley  |  No comments

reading-with-kids_royalty_freeEvery night as part of my three year old’s bedtime routine; we lie down and read a story that he chooses from his shelf. We have been doing this practically since the day he came home from the hospital and has ultimately become an essential part of our family dynamic.

As parents, it is easy to overlook, but there are many positive, long-lasting benefits to reading to your child as early and often as possible.

A Calming, Bonding Experience

In my house, one of the primary roles as dad is “rough-houser”. Between tickling, wrestling and belly raspberries, it is safe to say that my kid gets pretty riled up. However, the other side to that coin is being able to teach him how to calm himself once playtime is over. Books are a great way to relax your child’s mind and body and help transition them to that mindset; especially when it is time to go to sleep.

This was particularly important for me during the early stages of his development; my wife stayed home with my son for almost all of his first year and she was therefore his primary source of food and entertainment. Since I was working all day, I kind of felt left out because I was missing so many special moments. Coming home and being able to cuddle up and read to him was a great way to create a few special moments of my own and reinforce a connection that still reverberates to this day.

Increase Cognitive & Communication Skills

Reading to your child will not only increase their understanding of their surroundings, it will also assist in increasing their vocabulary and improving their speech patterns.

At the infant stage, buy board books that have big, colorful pictures, ones with mirrors and others with different textures (rough, smooth, crinkly). As you read to them, allow them to hold the book in order to give them a sensory experience as well. Also, make sure you expressing emotions and making all sorts of silly noises. You may not realize it but although your baby doesn’t completely understand everything, they are extremely observant and are taking in everything from the way you are holding the book, to the fact you are reading left to right.

During the toddler stage, you can start asking questions that make them think. A few examples of this are:

  • Looking at the cover. What do you think the book is about?
  • How is the character feeling? Happy or sad?
  • What did you like the best about the story?

During this stage and into preschool, as they are learning the alphabet, have them point out the first letter in certain words and help them spell it out. You can also show them the spaces in between the words as well as common “sight” words (a, the, and, it, etc).

Develop A Lifetime Love of Learning

In a world where is seems as though technology is all consuming and playing video games, texting and web browsing for kids is the norm, books are a valuable resource that is more important to hold on to than ever. The earlier you start your child on the path of reading, the greater the chances that they won’t see books as a boring chore, but as a tool for access to an exciting world of imagination and endless possibilities. This type of attitude towards learning will undoubtedly serve them in the classroom and throughout their lives.

A Few Quick Tips

  • In addition to reading stories, try making one up off the top of your head. Also, have him/her add events and characters. Doing this will keep things interesting, for both your child and you.
  • Try to have as many different people read to your child as much as possible. Hearing a variety of voices and pitches will help increase their mastery of the English language.
  • Enjoy it while it lasts. Value every minute you have with them. They grow up quick and one day, you’ll be seen as an embarrassment and you will be lucky if they want to be seen in public with you.


About the author: Kyle is a young father of one (and a half!) who blogs about his experiences on

Helping Your Child and Others Understand Your Special Needs Situation

Posted by SLawrenceWeiss  |  No comments

hands_royalty_free_webI currently have four children ages 14, 6, 4, and 9 months. When my first son was born he had numerous medical complications including blindness in his right eye. His eye was very small and eventually had to be removed because of disease and potential complications. He received a prosthetic eye, soon after his first birthday.

I quickly realized that he would need my full attention, in an attempt to help him (and others) adjust to his special situation.

Here is what I did:

  1. We made a bed for his eye to sleep in, when he needed a rest from the prosthesis.
  2. I made a personalized book for my son, explaining his need to keep the eye inside the socket during the day (to help the natural growth of his facial features). I used personal photos inside the book for a more effective learning strategy.
  3. We read his book at home, every day, for months.
  4. I had his teachers read the book at school, so his peers would build a pathway for empathy and understanding.
  5. My son did not understand why his eye popped out and no one else had an eye like his. I bought him a doll at Target, so he could play with the moving eyes and see that those eyes stayed in place. We then talked often about how his eye was different and that was okay! We named it his “Special Eye.”
  6. He had to get glasses to protect his one Seeing Eye. I purchased well made doll glasses from The American Doll company and placed those on his doll. He loved playing with her! The glasses lasted for years.
  7. I trained my son on how to reply to people when they asked about his “fake” eye. He learned to reply to probing questions in a calm and helpful manner.

Whatever your special situation is, come up with some fun and interesting ways to teach your family members and others. Many times people fear what they do not understand. By educating yourselves and others, you’ll eliminate many stressors involved in parenting a child that other people do not relate to. Help them relate! It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Mommy Perks, Shara Lawrence-Weiss

Member of 411 Voices: Women in Media

Some of our sites:
Mommy Perks | Personal Child Stories | Early Childhood News and Resources
Dr. Sally Parenting Tips | FREE Small Business Features

Google+: Shara Lawrence-Weiss
Facebook: Mommy Perks
Twitter: @MommyPerks

Parent Involvement Matters

Posted by jpiccarillo  |  No comments

When it comes to raising children, parent involvement in their daily lives, especially during the first 15 years or so, is crucial to their development. This includes their mental outlook on the world, their emotional development and of course, their intellect and education. Many parents find it conflicting as children get older as to how much involvement is too much! Let’s face it – being a parent doesn’t exactly come with an instruction manual! Many parents are actively involved in the beginning stages of their child’s life and tend to gradually withdraw in attempts to let the children gain their individuality and independence. For this reason, programs like Parent Involvement Matters can provide a wealth of support and success to both parents and children alike.

What is Parent Involvement Matters?

This advocacy program helps parents to find productive ways to remain involved in the lives of their children while helping them to grow socially, emotionally, and intellectually. The program consists of parents, children, educators, and other community members that share the same sense of vitality when it comes to being involved in molding the futures of children. This includes facets such as education, participation in school and community activities as well as a wide variety of special interest groups and organizations. The main purpose of the Parent Involvement Matters program is to unite and connect these like-minded individuals together to formulate a strong support system for the kids.

Helping Children Achieve Their Goals

The underlying goal of the Parent Involvement Matters program is to develop a community of people who are actively involved in a child’s daily life such as teachers, parents, church members, day care operators and counselors – to create a circle of support for the child. Every child has a dream and an idea of what they want to do with their future, although their ideas may consistently change as they grow older. This community of people work together to help children achieve these goals wherever possible. This may mean introducing children with a passion for marine biology to the instructors at the local aquarium or the teacher who allows the student who wants to become a teacher the opportunity to teach a lesson in class. This type of surrounding enables the child to obtain a hands-on experience with their future goals while they are still trying to learn enough to sort out their ideas.

Making a Difference in Your Child’s Life

A child will naturally look up to all adult figures and innocently assume that they know what is best for them. This is a trust that is created at birth when a mother first holds her child. The bond created is unlike any other, however parents are encouraged to encourage their children to live active lives. This may mean being sociable with classmates, participate in extra-curricular activities or spend some time around other trusted adults that can add to the many perspectives and adventures of life. However, throughout this experience, it is important for the children to know, feel and remember that no matter who they met along the way or how their ideas of their future change, that their parents will always be involved in helping them achieve their goals.

For More Information on the Parent Involvement Matters Program – Click Here Now

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