Monthly Archives: December 2014

How About Those Holidays: Children ages 4-6

Guest post by Karen DeBoard, Ph.D., Family & Human Development Extension Specialist

Holidays come so quickly and are gone just as swiftly. It seems Jack-o’-lanterns and goblins soon give way to pilgrims and turkeys and are almost immediately replaced by the red and green symbols of Christmas holidays.

If you’re attempting to fit the joys of parenting in with shopping, decorating and your usually hectic schedule it’s a good idea to remind yourself about what behavior is normal and predictable from your young children.

Most children act their age. While pictures in magazines show beautifully attired, clean, calm children sitting patiently for hours on end and behaving themselves, you must keep in mind those are just pictures. Real children go through stages. Let the stages of your young ones help determine your activities at holiday time. Take time to enjoy the phase your child is in – stressing that how a child acts is tied to his or her age and stage of development.

As parents, we need [to be] reminded to keep everything in perspective during the hustle bustle of the holidays–especially where children are concerned. Holiday money woes, stressed schedules, and excited children are a formula for family stress. Children learn from you how to manage stress. They will mirror your behavior. The holidays can be a wonderful time but also there is added stress and a snowball effect of everyone’s stress coming into play.

Much like younger children and older children, four year olds are enthusiastic, silly, eager and fun. They love the holidays and love celebrations. Whether it is a birthday or an extended vacation, they now can remember last year and can anticipate activities. Stretch out the holidays for them. Take them to events, but not too many or for too long. They may have highs and lows and may sometimes be cranky, but they generally behave well. Most four-year-olds are dramatic and imaginative, so this is a perfect holiday for them.

Typically five year olds are composed and “together.” They are much improved in behavior over previous years because they are beginning to set their own limits. At this age, they may actually keep Grandma’s surprise gift a secret long enough to let her open the package. Since they like to help and do things alone, this would be a good year for projects. This year it might be a good idea to take them shopping. It may also be a first year for really liking the man in the big red suit rather than being afraid of the jolly old character. Expect a long list of gifts, but remember they are better off with just a few.

Six year olds may want to be the hub of it all, but they can’t take it all in. This is not the easiest Christmas for them them, however. They might brag, think no one else can compare to them, and forget their manners. They like making things and can stretch a project over several days, so try more involved projects.

Whatever you do, take time to enjoy your children and the holidays. It is a once-in-a-lifetime role!


Virginia Cooperative Extension celebrates 100 years, showcases Arlington and Alexandria programs

Volunteers Bill Guey-Lee and Desiree Kaul manage the Master Financial Education display.

Volunteers Bill Guey-Lee and Desiree Kaul manage the Master Financial Education display at Virginia Cooperative Extension’s breakfast showcase at Fairlington Community Center.

Virginia Cooperative Extension‘s breakfast showcase, highlighting Arlington and City of Alexandria programs, made the news.

A few 2014 highlights:

  • Staff and Master Financial Education volunteers started Money Smarts Pay, which combines money management classes with financial coaching to help participants adopt positive financial habits. Extension partnered with Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing and The Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless to offer Money Smarts Pay to affordable housing tenants.
  • Staff and Master Food Volunteers addressed childhood obesity by organizing healthy cooking classes for teens in foster care and low-income teens, and 4-H Food Challenge events.
  • VCE–Arlington, with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, won the national Extension Housing Outreach Award.

Read the full story here.



Cloverbuds is back in Arlington!


Saturday, November 15th saw the very first Cloverbuds meeting for Arlington County 4-H since … well, you tell us!

Twelve new 4-Hers ages 5-8 and their parents joined us here in Fairlington for an hour of fun activities learning about foods and nutrition. They played a memory game with the assistance of MyPlate, read a story, and created their own MyPlates with grocery flyers, paper plates, and glue. Best of all, they got to taste and compare five different apple varieties — yum yum!

Cloverbuds is ‘4-H Lite’ for kids too young for traditional 4-H clubs (ages 9-19), in which club members run their own business meetings using parliamentary procedure and Roberts Rules of Order. Regular 4-Hers also elect officials to lead the club, form committees to plan their own educational and service projects, and compete with their projects in local, regional, state, and national competitions.

Unlike regular 4-Hers, Cloverbuds do not compete with their projects. And rather than pursuing one or two topics in-depth like older 4-Hers, Cloverbuds function more like the scouts: they come together once a month and explore an array of topics. We encourage Cloverbud parents to share the responsibility of planning activities — this way, all parents have an opportunity to share their passions with youth, and youth gain exposure to a wide range of pursuits. Some example topics include: foods and nutrition; electricity and circuits; citizenship; earth and the environment; and expressive arts.

But of course, every Cloverbuds meeting is just like regular 4-H club meetings in a couple of ways:  The group is organized and run by wonderful volunteers (did you know that 4-H is a volunteer-led program?). Also, meetings begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and the 4-H Pledge, and activities are hands-on, so 4-Hers are able to learn by doing, which is the 4-H way!

If you have a child between the ages of 5 and 8 and would like to get involved with Cloverbuds at the Fairlington Community Center, please contact me (Emily, 4-H Extension Agent). The next meeting will be on Saturday, January 10th.