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    • Take Steps to Support Literacy: 8 Ways to Inspire Children to Read

      19 January 2022

      (Family Features) Reading is a foundation for learning, yet a vast gap exists in access to books for low-income neighborhoods.

      According to the Handbook of Literacy Research, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is just one age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Without books in the home, children lack the opportunity to practice reading skills and are exposed to fewer opportunities to build their vocabularies.

      While these limitations can hinder personal performance, multiple studies correlate low literacy rates with social concerns like elevated drop-out rates, reliance on welfare programs and criminal activity.

      Literacy is a cause that affects the community as a whole. Learn how you can champion literacy in your community with these tips:

      Give Books to Children
      The joy of receiving and opening a gift is exciting in its own right, but a book is a gift that keeps giving. You can make a book gift extra special by choosing a topic or theme that has special meaning, such as a place you’d like to visit together or a beloved character you enjoy incorporating into your make-believe playtime with the child. As a bonus, if it’s age appropriate, read the book together for the first time so it always carries a special memory.

      Visit the Library
      Libraries can be awe-inspiring places for kids. The wall-to-wall books represent thousands of possibilities. With so many options to choose from, you can introduce children to the delight of discovering different genres, enchanting topics and favorite authors who keep you coming back for more.

      When children have their own library cards, they can practice the grown-up process of checking out and caring for books. What’s more, honoring due dates helps teach responsibility. Marking that date on the calendar is a fun way to build anticipation toward the next visit.

      Support Organizations That Promote Literacy
      Conducting your business with companies that share your commitment to literacy is a way to inspire reading on a larger scale. One example is The UPS Store, which created the Toys for Tots Literacy Program in partnership with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to provide disadvantaged children with direct access to books and educational resources that enhance their ability to read and communicate effectively. You can donate at participating locations or contribute online.

      Create Reading-Inspired Traditions
      Children thrive on routines and rituals, and incorporating books into special moments can be an especially effective way to establish positive connections with books and the joy of reading. At home, traditions might be as simple as bedtime stories or reading parties where the whole family dons pajamas early and gathers in a room to read together, whether quietly or out loud. You can also tie reading traditions to special celebrations, like reading a favorite story together before heading to bed on the eve of a birthday or holiday.

      Participate in Events Supporting Literacy
      Show your support by attending and participating in events that showcase the importance of reading. Examples might include book fairs and fundraisers for literacy programs in your community. You can also look into programs offered through your local library and community center. If you find a shortage of events in your area, consider creating one of your own, such as visiting a local senior living center and reading to residents or hosting a book swap or book club with your friends and neighbors.

      Encourage Kids to Get Hands-On
      Reading a book is one way to demonstrate literacy, but kids can also develop a love for reading and put their comprehension skills into practice by adapting their favorite stories for playtime. That might mean acting out a different ending for a favorite story or drawing a picture from a scene they remember best. You can also promote literacy by encouraging kids to write songs or their own short stories, which they can illustrate for a finished book to share with others.

      Start a Neighborhood Library
      Recognizing not all kids have access to books at home, you can help promote an interest in reading by creating a mini library within your neighborhood. Create a small structure that will protect books from the elements and spread the word that the contents are free for the taking. Encourage users to return books when they’re done so another child can enjoy them and invite neighbors to donate their gently used books to help fill your library.

      Model Good Reading Habits for Kids
      Children learn from the examples set by trusted grown-ups. Sharing your love of reading with a child demonstrates you value learning and education. You can encourage children to mimic your interest in reading by sharing stories about the books you enjoyed most when you were their age and choosing to spend quiet time reading together in place of screen time.

      For more tips and information on how you can support literacy, visit theupsstore.com/literacy.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Tips for Teaching Children Table Manners

      19 January 2022

      When you sit down for family dinner, at home or at a restaurant, it’s comforting to witness your children mind their manners. But these aren’t behaviors that come naturally, rather, they need to be taught. Of course this is no easy task, as children can be easily distracted and sometimes even a little wild. Here are some tips to easily teach your children table manners. 

      Start With Hygiene
      The first thing you want to teach your children is to wash their hands. This should be something done before any meal, snack or even some activities. Not only is it polite, but it can keep germs from spreading everywhere, from your child’s mouth to the serving spoon. For a guaranteed clean and a way to make hand washing fun, come up with a 20 second jingle your kids can sing while they wash.

      Sit Nicely and Be Patient
      Children have shorter attention spans than most adults. This means that a 30-minute dinner for you might only be a 15-minute dinner for them. Kids get bored easily, so much so that it can even pull them away from a delicious meal. Patience, in this step, will need to come from both sides. Once a child sits down, they need to learn that it is polite to wait until everyone at the table has their food to start eating. Though there will be plenty of times they will be done and leave the table first, it’s a good idea to teach them to stay until everyone has finished their meals.

      Say Please and Thank You
      During dinner, second helpings are almost inevitable. If you’re ready for a second helping of veggies, a second scoop of potatoes or another piece of chicken, be sure to politely ask for the plate or bowl to be passed to you. “Please pass the gravy” followed up with a “thank you” is a great way to teach by example. Remind children when they forget, and before you know it, it will come naturally to them. 

      Listen to Each Other
      The dinner table was made for conversation, and it’s important that all members of the family get a chance to speak and be heard. Even though hearing about Dad’s work day or a test an older sibling had to take at school may not be what a child is interested in, teaching them to listen to and engage with others at the table is vital when learning good table manners. When you listen to others, others will listen to you. 

      Help Clean Up
      Once a meal is finished, helping with clean-up is a great way to show good manners. Teach your children to help clear the table by giving them a job. Whether it’s collecting utensils or cups, this is a great way to show them how to give thanks for the meal that was thoughtfully prepared and enjoyed together. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Create a Functional Laundry Room

      19 January 2022

      A laundry room is one of the most frequently used areas in a home. Whether you live alone or house a family of five, this space can easily get out of control and become cluttered and messy, making it harder to maneuver baskets, mixing clean and dirty clothes and impairing overall productivity. 

      By following these steps, your laundry room can become a more functional space where you can clean, fold, organize and truly enjoy your clothes: 

      Maximize Storage Space
      Whether the room is large or small, adding a shelf, cabinet, drawers or an entire organization system is a great start to improving functionality. Use this space to safely store detergent and other cleaning chemicals, as well as dryer sheets, irons and other tools so you can keep the tops of your machines clear and reduce any risks, especially to children and pets. If you have extra cabinets, utilize them for storing seasonal linens, guest towels and more. 

      Add a Folding Station
      Forget carrying clean clothes around the house, bundled up in a wrinkle-inducing pile in a basket. Create an area in your laundry room where you can fold. From a simple table or countertop, to utilizing the space on top of a font-loader, to a mounted shelf that folds out when needed, you have many options to add this functional piece to your space. 

      Don’t Forget the Hangers
      For garments that you prefer to be hung and not folded, adding hangers to your laundry room is key. Thankfully, hanging clothes doesn’t take up too much room. Add hanging rods under high cabinets, a mounted, fold-out drying rack, or even simple hooks on the back of the door to utilize vertical space. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Stylish Color Trends for 2022

      18 January 2022

      (Family Features) A new year brings opportunities to refresh your living space and add colors into your life. These four trends are all about incorporating more of yourself and your lifestyle into your home, whether it’s answering your need for a serene escape or dialing up the energy with vibrant surroundings.

      Bring in Nature
      Soothing earthy tones help bring a sense of calm and balance indoors. When designing with nature in mind, use gray-green tones to connect your aesthetic with the serene elements of the outdoors. Incorporate nature’s palette with greens in fabrics, accessories and even on the walls. Wood and stone materials naturally complement these shades for a look that’s cohesively pleasing and peaceful.

      Stylish Sophistication
      If you’re aiming to infuse some sophistication with an update to a favorite space, opt for a monochromatic look in a dark (almost black) hue. The approach is simultaneously bold and classic, but the secret to this trend is finding a shade that’s rich and deep, but not quite black, then complementing it with fabrics and furnishings that let the hint of color shine.

      Connect with Your Inner Self
      Creating a living space that is uniquely yours requires understanding your inner motivations, traits and talents. One source of personal inspiration may be your zodiac sign, a reflection of the earth’s orientation to the sun on your birthday.

      The color experts at Valspar partnered with Ophira and Tali Edut of the AstroTwins to make it easy to explore the intersection of your character and style by explaining which 2022 Color of the Year best aligns with each zodiac sign. When you combine your sign with the convenience and advanced one-coat coverage of premium Valspar Reserve Interior Paint + Primer, available at Lowe’s, you can create a luxurious space that reflects the real you.

      • Aries – Sunset Curtains: A warm and soothing color like this supports a transformational year full of new opportunities.
      • Taurus – Gilded Linen: This clean, cozy color makes spaces feel open, perfect for celebrating togetherness.
      • Gemini – Grey Suit: This is a color of warmth and versatility, a signature combination for Geminis.
      • Cancer – Delightful Moon: A spirited, playful color inspires a year of growth and adventure.
      • Leo – Mountain River: A dark and dreamy color invites inspiration for a year filled with abundance.
      • Virgo – Subtle Peach: It’s the year of partnerships for Virgos; this harmonious color works well alongside others but can also stand on its own.
      • Libra – Orchid Ash: A cool and breezy color keeps it simple so Libras can focus on a year of vitality.
      • Scorpio – Fired Earth: This warm and approachable color is perfect for Scorpios who plan to bring new people into their lives this year.
      • Sagittarius – Rustic Oak: A relaxing and comforting color that welcomes coziness in the new year.
      • Capricorn – Blanched Thyme: For Capricorns, this is the year of variety, and this is a refreshing tone to support change.
      • Aquarius – Country Charm: This hue provides warmth and stability for a year of productivity.
      • Pisces – Lilac Lane: A playful pastel hue that brings softness along with optimism and renewal.

      Add Comfort and Warmth
      Treating your home like a sanctuary never goes out of style, and one way to create a soothing, inviting space is through the use of cozy neutrals. Whether it’s applied to a bedroom retreat or a more bustling space like the living room, a neutral palette can add to the allure of comfort and warmth. Keep the visual interest strong by incorporating subtle patterns, textures and layers of complementary neutral colors.

      Find more 2022 color trends and design inspiration at Valspar.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Teach Your Kids About Saving and Spending

      18 January 2022

      You can never be too young to learn the true value of saving. For children, however, the concept of money is much different than the reality. But that doesn’t mean you can’t teach them how to save—even their pennies—responsibly. 

      Once your child reaches the age of about five or six, they start learning how to count and add in school. Of course, their main focus is probably on their favorite new toy, or one they don’t own and have been begging you for. Use this as an opportunity to merge what they’re learning in school with their wants and desires in a financially educational way. 

      In order for them to save money, they will need to make money to put away, so don’t forget about their allowance! Reward completed chores with small amounts of cash that can be used towards whatever they desire, with your permission, of course. Also, if they choose to start a lemonade stand or sell their old toys at the next yard sale, the money earned can be added to their savings. 

      Money from birthdays or holidays can be added to their savings fund, as well. You can even help them out by matching every dollar saved with 25 - 50 cents. At the end of each week, sit down and count how much money they have in total and how much has been added from the week before. 

      Use a clear jar where their money can be easily displayed. It’s smart to set a goal to start, be it a new toy or activity, to financially work towards. Once they see that they are getting closer and closer to the amount needed, it can push them to work harder and even add an extra chore to their list. 

      Once they meet, or hopefully exceed, their set goal, discuss how they would like to use it. If they are ready to go out and purchase their hard-earned prize, be sure to only take out the amount needed. This is a good way to teach budgeting. For example, if they plan to spend $10 on a new toy, but have $20 saved, be sure to only take out the amount needed. If you bring the total amount with you, they may decide to spend it irresponsibly on a random purchase. Leaving the rest at home gives them a jump start toward their next savings goal. 

      During this learning process, be sure to hold your children responsible for the money going in and out of their savings fund. Some things take longer to save for, but are more valuable in the long run. The sooner they understand that, as well as the time and effort it takes to build savings, the sooner they will understand the beginning steps of financial responsibility.  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.