Inclusivity matters. Many people don’t know the struggle that individuals with disabilities face in our society.
The problem extends well beyond occasional teasing — significant social constructs prevent the disabled from fully participating in life.
As parents, we can do our part to help shape attitudes, starting with our own children.
Here are nine ways to teach your children to be more inclusive toward those with disabilities, and illness, and even race:
1. Increase Their Exposure
Does your child have any friends who use wheelchairs or other assistive devices to walk? What about someone with hearing issues or a chronic illness?
The best way to learn about the struggles those with disabilities face is to make friends with them. You could find the experience enlightening.
For example, according to the CDC, while only 5% of children under 18 are uninsured, nearly half have public coverage — which means when they reach the age of majority, they sometimes face insurmountable difficulties if their employer doesn’t offer insurance. This hardship is far from minor, given the gig economy.
What does this situation mean to you when promoting inclusion?
Go easy if your child’s friend comes from the “wrong side of the tracks.” Many conditions, like Type 1 diabetes, tend to run in families. Even if the child qualifies for aid, the parents likely do not.
Choosing between costly medical care and paying rent represents a considerable hardship for those with chronic diseases requiring ongoing care. Many members of this population live in perpetual poverty even if they work hard.
2. Play Games
Yes, you take your kids to the park so that they can run and jump to their hearts’ content. However, one way you can promote inclusivity is to suggest games that everyone can play — even those who use a chair.
For example, why not propose a game of Through the Hoops. All you need is a hula hoop, a collection of balls, and a rope. Unlike basketball, they have to throw the ball horizontally, helping develop upper-body strength and coordination. Everyone can join in the fun.
3. Consider Public School
If you have deep pockets, you might choose to send your kids to private school. However, you should know that one drawback of this model is reduced diversity because these entities can pick and choose who attends.
Likewise, those who go to private schools often come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, meaning that your child won’t get to “know the struggle,” even secondhand. While this approach works if you want to keep them more sheltered, it can lead to a narrowed perspective. Ultimately, you must do what’s best for your child, but you should remain aware that public schools promote more inclusivity because they have to accommodate all.
Children aren’t born with inherent prejudices. Their typical reaction to the unusual — like someone using arm crutches to help them walk — is curiosity, not derision.
However, it is best to teach them to reach out to others early in life. Not everyone has the ability to develop and do so.
If you are at the park and see someone with different abilities playing alone, encourage your child to speak with them. Coach them how to ask, “can I join in on your game,” or, “would you like to try this one?” Some children are naturally more shy than others, and they’ll appreciate the tips.
5. Encourage Quiet Play
Children love rough-and-tumble play. However, there’s a time to hit the gridiron and another for getting lost in a fantasy world.
Encourage quiet play in your children from a young age using tools like a tot-clock to time-independent sessions. Once your kids discover the joy of coloring or acting out a story with their dolls, they won’t want to stop — but they will love to share their activities with others.
6. Model Anti-Bullying Techniques
Anti-bullying programs in schools help reduce such behavior, but you as a parent can do more. Make sure you not only scold threats, intimidations, and put-downs but model the appropriate way to act.
For example, if your kids hear you talking about how a depressed friend always wants preferential treatment at work — when all they want is a telecommuting accommodation — they’ll pick up on your judgmental attitude. If you treat adults with mental and physical disorders dismissively, your children will imitate what you do despite your instructions to do otherwise. Don’t act surprised when they come home with a note from the teacher for picking on a classmate who requested quiet time to prevent a meltdown.
7. Learn Sign Language Together
Do you need a fun activity to do during a quarantine period? Why not use the extra time at home to learn sign language?
While it takes a while to master, this activity helps promote inclusivity in kids by introducing them to hearing impairments. They’ll love it because they can sign “secret messages” to their BFF in class without getting in trouble for talking out of turn.
8. Monitor Off and Online Interactions
You can’t correct non-inclusive behavior in your children if you don’t know when it occurs. Please continue to monitor their off and online interactions and discuss problems as they arise.
You have to tread lightly with older children who will cite privacy concerns.
However, it’s okay to say, “I overheard you using the ‘R’ word. Let’s talk about why that isn’t okay.”
9. Walk the Talk and Become an Advocate
The ultimate way to teach your children to be more inclusive to those with disabilities is to become an advocate yourself. Educate yourself on the issues and mobilize your efforts to bring improved equality for all.
Advocate for policies such as universal coverage — they have proven to work time and again. For example, the implementation of a unified health system in Brazil dropped infant mortality rates from 46 per 1,000 live births to 17.3.
Such measures would lift millions out of poverty and, more importantly, improve the quality of life for scores of kids. Here in America, the Supreme Court will soon decide whether to dismantle the Affordable Care Act at a time when millions already lack access to health services. Speak up for parents currently struggling with disabilities and future generations who may also have to face the hardships this population grapples with today.
Teach Your Children to Be Inclusive With These Tips
As a parent, you play a vital role in increasing acceptance and equal treatment for those with disabilities. Please use these nine ideas to teach your children to be inclusive for a brighter tomorrow for all.
These are the best gifts to give your infants this holiday season. They’ll be useful for parents of newborns even as those babies grow through their first year.
1. Ultra-Soft Bundle Blanket
Sometimes you might think that getting another baby blanket could be like getting more coffee mugs you’ll never actually use. When you start swaddling an infant, you’ll realize that it’s always helpful to have blankets waiting on standby. Whether the infant throws up or their diaper leaks, giving new parents an ultra-soft bundle blanket ensures they’ll always have something to reach for to keep their baby warm.
Posting baby pictures online is a great way to share memories, but you should keep them for yourself too. A photo memory book is a fantastic gift because you can save pictures in a tangible form. When your child leaves for their first day of school or heads off to college, you can reach for the photo book to hold your memories close.
3. Wooden Name Puzzle
You can order a wooden puzzle made with any infant’s name. It’s an adorable piece of decor for their nursery that they’ll use when they get old enough to play with toys. Puzzles specifically develop multiple useful skills, like cognitive and problem-solving abilities.
4. New Teething Jewelry
Babies use teething to explore the world and deal with the pain of developing their first set of teeth. They’ll likely lose their toys throughout the home or need them while you’re out running errands. Teething jewelry is an easy way to ensure they’ll always have what they need.
Teething jewelry also provides essential sensory stimulation to continue your infant’s development. It’s great for kids with special needs and any infant needing help with their teething. Whatever you buy will last throughout the coming months while they fully develop their teeth.
5. Themed Baby Swaddle
Many parents find that swaddling is more helpful than casually wrapping a blanket around their baby. It’s a precise way of wrapping that recreates the womb’s security, calming fussy babies who are overstimulated.
It can also assist babies who jerk around in their sleep. This movement is called the startle or Moro reflex and it happens involuntarily. It’s completely normal, but the extra movement could cause your infant to wake up more often. Swaddling them before bed ensures a few hours of peaceful sleep.
Find a swaddling blanket with a theme that matches their nursery or favorite toys for an extra thoughtful layer to your gift.
6. Adjustable Bandana Bibs
Infants drool no matter what they’re doing. They’re still learning to regulate their saliva and don’t have teeth to help retain it. Adjustable bandana bibs are soft, stylish accessories that protect their clothes by catching the spit. If the bibs are adjustable and wide enough, they’ll also fit babies from infancy to 24 years old.
7. Colorful Indoor Gloves
The same startle reflex that wakes infants up from naps also causes them to scratch themselves accidentally. They also don’t have the fine motor skills to apply the right pressure if they have an itch.
Parents can prevent these facial scratches with baby gloves. They’re soft accessories that work indoors and outside. The fabric is mostly thin enough to prevent your infant from overheating indoors, but they can use them as an extra precaution against cold weather too.
Find a colorful pack of infant gloves and give the newborn in your life the gift of constant comfort.
8. Small Lightweight Toys
Although infants won’t engage with toys quite the same as older babies and toddlers, they’re still useful to have on hand. Parents can pull them out during a meltdown or as a distraction. Keep in mind that diaper bags rarely have much extra room, so if you’re going to give toys as a gift, make sure they’re small and lightweight.
Newborn loungers can make all the difference for busy parents. They provide crucial head support, keep your baby in place while they wiggle, and hold them at an angle so they can always see what you’re doing. Rounded loungers are the most common, but you can also find a rectangular shape in fabric or shade you prefer.
10. Portable Mini Speaker
Music is so essential during the infancy stages. When parents cradle their baby and sway to the music, the infant’s brain releases increased oxytocin levels, which is the hormone that creates a parent-child bond.
Give the gift of a portable mini speaker so you or your loved ones can bond with their baby. Match it to the infant’s nursery colors or find one in a fun shape, like an animal or cartoon character.
Personalize Your Gifts
After reading about the best gifts to give your infants this holiday season, make sure you remember to personalize what you buy. Adding a monogrammed name or set of initials makes any gift extra special, particularly for first-time parents. These are gifts any infant will love and continue to use before their first birthday.
Just over 50% of elementary and high schools have transitioned to online learning this year amidst the coronavirus. Meanwhile, another 19% will participate in some form of hybrid schooling and just 25% will attend in-person classes full-time.
If you’re one of the many parents whose children have gone virtual, you may be struggling to recreate the schoolroom experience at home. After all, you’re no teacher and your house doesn’t resemble a classroom in the slightest. Yet, your kiddos’ education still rests on your shoulders.
At school, kids have cubbies, paintbrushes, whiteboards, and other supplies. However, you may not have these items on hand at home. Make a trip to the grocery store for basic art supplies, binders, clipboards, and storage boxes to maintain organization.
These supplies — and others like bookbag hooks and planners — will also make your children feel like they’re back in the classroom. Even if they can’t use a Smartboard or have their own desk, at least they’ll have a few things that remind them of their classroom.
2. Establish a Work Space
Once you’ve gathered supplies, set up space within your home to serve as a classroom. Convert the kitchen table into a desk or turn a corner of the family room into a learning center. Then, keep this space free of clutter and let your children organize it at the end of each day — just as they would their desk at school.
Establishing a school-like environment at home will help kids differentiate between school time and free time. Plus, once they know where they’ll be working each day, they’ll be more apt to start school on time and get to work right away.
3. Keep a Schedule
Most kids function best on some sort of schedule because it gives them a sense of comfort and security. At school, they rely on bells to signal the beginning and end of each period. When the clock strikes noon, they know to go to lunch, and, at three, they prepare to go home.
You can create a similar routine at home using an hourly planner. Of course, you likely won’t plan a full eight-hour school day. However, you can schedule in a few hours of learning as well as recess, lunch, snack time, and other breaks.
4. Make Time for Movement
Speaking of recess, it’s important for kids to take one, especially right now. Experts recommend at least an hour of physical activity each day, but even a few minutes of outdoor play can be beneficial. From reducing disruptive outbursts to improving their productivity and focus, recess can make the entire school day more manageable and enjoyable.
Purchase your own swing set and let your kids loose in the backyard or head to the local park to play on the jungle gym. If you opt for the latter, bring hand sanitizer and masks and remind them to socially distance themselves from the other children.
5. Coordinate With Other Parents
If your children are learning virtually, their peers will be studying the same material, making tutoring and study sessions simple and easy to coordinate. However, if you’re homeschooling your child without the help of a virtual classroom or teacher, your little one may lack social interaction.
To encourage friendships and help your kids find a support team, consider coordinating with other parents to create matching lesson plans. Use the same curriculum, host Zoom meetings, and assign group projects so the kids can interact and learn together just as they would in a physical classroom.
6. Use a Reward System
Many teachers use a reward-punishment system to minimize bad behavior and encourage obedience. You may also find that such a system is effective at home, too — especially when there’s no social pressure to keep quiet and concentrate.
Use fake currency or a points system to motivate your kids, allowing them a special treat or activity once they reach a certain amount. Furthermore, outline punishments and institute them when kiddos are especially unruly. The consequences may include taking away screen time or sending them to bed earlier than usual.
Grace and Flexibility
Just like adults, kids are facing a great deal of anxiety and stress during the pandemic. In fact, 22.8% of them are currently suffering depressive symptoms, which researchers have linked to spending more time online and a problem-focused coping style — among other things.
Of course, virtual schooling isn’t likely to help. However, you can alleviate some of their stress by showing them grace and being flexible. Understand that they feel sad and lonely just like you and are probably misbehaving because of it. Then, work together to tackle schoolwork, lessons, and all the emotions associated with recreating school at home.
Give yourself some grace, too. Don’t sweat the small stuff and, remember, everyone’s just doing their best.
In fact, it was hard enough already before the coronavirus pandemicoccurred, and lockdowns happened.
While you might’ve figured out different ways to get a workout for yourself, sometimes you need help.
And online therapy is there to help you during this time. Therapy for moms is great especially during the COVID lockdowns, and while you might’ve already figured out how to give your children remote learning, getting remote therapy for yourself too is very important as well.
Gives You Someone to Talk To
As a mom, it isn’t easy to talk about certain subjects with your kids. If you’re transitioning to a remote job or maybe you lost your job and are stressed, you can’t exactly talk to your kids about it.
That’s where online therapy can help. The stress, anxiety, and depression of these times are not easy for anyone, and being a mom on top of that makes the job that much harder. Talking to someone about your problems though gives you an outlet to figure out how to handle it.
If you’re struggling to adjust to having your kids around all the time, therapy is a valid way to get the help you need, so you can be the best parent that you can.
Gives You “Me time” When Needed
Sometimes “me time” can be talking to someone and getting the help that you need.
Self-care especially for moms is imperative. You’re already doing a ton for the family, from cooking to cleaning to raising kids and making sure they end up decent. Having that time to yourself and self-care moments are important.
Talking to a therapist is great for helping you sort out how to get that “me time” as well. After all, it’s harder to get that time when you’re locked down with your kids for a few months, and it’s grating to parents. You can meet with a therapist for thirty minutes over a video call, and you can tell your kids that you’re busy, so you can get the help that you need.
Therapy is good, and it is a self-care activity to help you.
Can Help with Anxieties About COVID
Just because you have a kid doesn’t magically make the anxiety go away, right? Well, you can handle these anxieties by talking to a counselor.
Counselors online deal with clients that have similar concerns, and if you’re nervous or unsure about things, or stressed out about these changes, or even stressed out about COVID if you’re an at-risk person, talking to a counselor can help you manage those anxieties better.
It is a valid activity to do, and while it doesn’t make the virus magically disappear, it’s important to engage in, since plenty of parents have these anxieties, and they don’t know how to handle them.
Good Way to Be a Better Parent
Talking to a therapist is a good way to be a better parent.
In these trying times, it can be even more stressful on you, and sometimes, you may lash out at your kid inadvertently.
Seeing a therapist can help you manage any stress you have, to prevent lashing out towards your children unnecessarily.
Parents are superheroes in a sense, sure, but that doesn’t mean that the stress of life doesn’t get to them. Between all the running around they have to do, being a good parent can be a troublesome thing.
A therapist is a great outlet to talk to. If you have a history of mental illness or struggles with anxiety and depression, seeing a therapist for it is a great thing. They can set you on the right path to success and happiness.
If you are prone to outbursts and anger too, seeing a therapist is a good way to manage that.
Do it Remotely, do it Safely
Finally, these therapists are remote, so you don’t have to go anywhere.
That means you don’t have to worry about packing up the kids or finding a sitter.
It’s all from the comfort of your home, and so long as you have a place where you can be left alone and a computer or smart device, it’s definitely fine.
Let’s face it, being a mom is hard work. Between all that you have to do and the lack of time spent alone, it isn’t easy. If you’re struggling to find help and solace, therapy can help make things easier. And, with the novelty of online therapy, it is a lot easier to get the help that you need for every subject, and it’s imperative for moms who feel like they’re unable to do it alone.
Kids all learn differently, so sometimes traditional schooling isn’t what they need. Even though they may love their teachers or school activities, there are many benefits to virtual classes that may be better for them.
Parents might feel intimidated to become both parent and teacher, but your kids will have a great experience with the right tips. Learn more about how to make your cyber school/virtual school transition easier, even if you’ve never done it before.
1. Use Familiar Technology
Investing in the latest technology seems like a smart move. Your child’s education will depend on the programs and software they use. An outdated laptop that barely holds a charge will only be the source of daily frustrations.
At the same time, it’s better to stick with familiar technology. Adapting to cyber school and learning a new operating system complicates things. If you’re better with PC or Mac computers, upgrade what you already know how to use.
2. Establish a Routine
In-person learning could never happen if students and teachers didn’t have a routine. Cyber school students need that too. After you know what classes your kids will take, write down their daily schedules, and post them where they can easily see them.
Include things in their routine like:
Waking up on time
Taking breaks during the day
Maintaining a lunch period
Prioritizing study sessions
Eventually, everyone will memorize the schedule and virtual schooling will become the new normal.
3. Prepare Your Supplies
Before your child’s first class ever begins, stock up on the essentials so you have everything you need. Grab your shopping list and add things such as:
Pens and pencils
A printer that prints and scans documents
As the semester continues, you can add other things as you need them. Some parents prefer to use whiteboards to teach visual lessons for younger kids. Older students might need sound-blocking headphones to focus on live lectures.
Above all, make sure you have fast Wi-Fi. Everything will slow down and video quality will drop if you have more than one student trying to learn at the same time. Upgrade to avoid the headaches from lagging audio lessons and painfully slow homework uploads.
4. Set New Goals
Everyone benefits from recognizing the purpose of what they do. Sit down with your kids and set new goals for their upcoming semester or school year.
Talk about grades they want to achieve or subjects they want to get better at. You might ask them to sit still during class or not pick up their phones until the lesson is over. Goals drive students to work harder at both in-person schools and in your home.
5. Ask for Help
Even if you spend all your time reading about what to expect, the experience could still feel overwhelming. It’s a lot to get used to and there’s pressure to know what you’re doing right away. Your child’s future depends on the quality of their education. Potentially messing it up is a big worry for new cyber school parents.
Meeting with a mentor who’s there to support you will make your cyber school transition easier because you won’t feel alone. They’ll know what you’re going through and how to overcome new challenges. Their guidance will ease your nerves more than hours spent worrying about finding solutions.
6. Discuss Their Challenges
Every parent needs to sit down with their kids and reflect regularly. Keep an open line of communication. Your child should feel comfortable enough to explain what they like and don’t like about their new experience. Fine-tuning your first few weeks of cyber school together is a massive help to everyone involved.
Before you start these discussions, work on your communication skills so nothing comes off the wrong way. What you say, how you say it and what body language you use all plays a role in how comfortable your kids feel about speaking honestly around you.
7. Create Social Connections
Sometimes children become lonely when they homeschool. It’s all too easy to slip into isolation when they spend their days participating in classes at the kitchen table or doing homework in their room. Create an intention to foster healthy social connections by giving your kids opportunities to connect with people.
As children grow up, they need to learn how to be independent. Cyber school is a great way to do that. After they know how to complete their classes and what their daily life looks like, give your kids space. Let them take control of their education.
While you watch from a distance, they’ll learn crucial abilities like time management, communication skills, and critical thinking. These skillsets will carry them through their adult years and help them achieve lifelong success.
Don’t Set Expectations
As you use these tips to make your cyber school transition easier, don’t set expectations. Create healthy goals instead. Give yourself and your kids room to grow within your homeschooling experience. With time, you’ll know for sure if it’s the right thing for your family’s education.