Welcome

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Welcome to KLA Blog! Here, you will find articles about everything related to infants and toddlers like childcare, education and growing up. I will also share with you tips on raising your child, education and more! My name is Raquel Roa and I am passionate about children. I am a promoter and a defender of children’s rights. I firmly believe in them and I think that if we provide an education of quality, full of respect and love, we will have a better world. I invite you to join the conversation and share your thoughts or any advice you may have!

Raquel studied Early Childhood Education and has 15 years of experience working with children.

Follow Raquel’s personal blog on WordPress, TwitterFacebook, and on Instagram.

How to Support Your Child’s Problem-Solving Skills

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How to Support Your Child’s Problem-Solving Skills

Children are constantly experiencing new things exploring the way their world works. Good problem-solving skills can help them resolve conflicts, perform well in school and work, and develop confidence. Childhood is an ideal time to encourage your child in their problem-solving

Here are four ways to support your child’s problem-solving skills.

1) Encourage problem-solving with creative play

Because children learn through play and hands-on experiences, playtime is a great time to support their problem-solving skills. Creative play is imaginative and low-stakes, and the consequences of their choices won’t be serious. Jigsaw puzzles, hide-and-seek, obstacle courses, and sensory play are examples of creative play that can encourage problem-solving.

2) Model curiosity and open-mindedness

Try modeling problem-solving skills by thinking aloud. For example, if you’ve misplaced your keys in the house, you can say, “I can’t seem to find my keys. I wonder if I can remember where I had them last – maybe they’ll be there.” It’s also valuable to let your child see you having respectful two-way discussions about problems, even if you disagree with what’s being said.

3) Remain patient

Problem-solving can often be frustrating for your child, and it’s only natural that you’d want to help them and relieve their frustration. However, it’s more helpful to remain patient and encouraging. Remind them that you’re proud of them for trying, and help them talk through their thought process. With your support, your child will learn that they can find solutions to their problems.

4) Allow natural consequences to happen

Allowing your child to experience the consequences of problem-solving will help them better evaluate the choice they made, and make adjustments for the future. If the consequence is harmless and minor, let it happen. Then, you and your child can have a discussion about what happened, and encourage them to try again.

Screen Time Tips for Young Children

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Screen Time Tips for Young Children

Children have access to a vast array of computer technology and entertainment designed specifically for them. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over the age of two should have screen time for no more than two hours a day. This includes TV, internet videos, tablets, smartphones, games, and computers.

Here are some tips to encourage your child to experience technology in a healthy manner.

Lead by example

Children develop their idea of healthy screen time by watching how their parents use tablets and devices. Technology is such a part of our lives that avoiding your own devices entirely is likely not possible. However, you can try reducing your screen time around your child so that they will see that technology is only one part of your life.

Research the technology your child encounters

Technology can be a great way to support your child’s education. However, sometimes it can also offer no benefit other than entertainment, and may even be a negative distraction. Your child’s daycare or preschool is a great place to get information on the latest technology aimed at children, or resources you can use for your own research. Ask questions about the technology they use, and even try it out for yourself.

Don’t rely on technology to calm your child

Handing your phone or tablet to your child to calm or distract them does work. However, it can also create an unwanted dependency on devices and screen time. Young children are still learning how to deal with emotions, impulses, and boredom. Help them practice other ways to regulate their emotions, such as playing a game like I Spy, offering a book, or asking them to talk to you about how they’re feeling.

Create family screen-free times

Try creating family screen-free times during dinner, an hour before bed, or during weekend afternoons. Enjoying an activity on their own or with family during this time will help your child see that screens aren’t the only source of entertainment available.

Investigate apps that allow you to monitor screen time

Amongst the many apps and games available for children to access, there are some that are designed with a parent in mind. These apps and games allow you set a time for them to turn off, or let you pause them remotely. This can help your child enjoy their screen time without spending too long with it.

Technology for preschoolers and young children can be a great way to enhance their learning, and there are many ways you can encourage healthy behaviors around the use of technology.

Preschoolers and Sharing

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Preschoolers and Sharing

As adults, we know that being generous and “taking turns” are important life skills that have benefits in all aspects of life. However, preschoolers just learning how to socialize are still learning how to share, and may need help with the concept. Here are some ways you can help teach your preschooler about sharing.

Model good sharing behavior

Letting your child see how sharing works is an ideal way to help them understand. You may need to make it clear to your child that you are sharing. For example, if a friend offers you some of their lunch, you can accept it and say, “Thank you very much for sharing that with me.”

You can also demonstrate to your preschooler that you can share things like feelings, thoughts, and stories as well as objects.

Make sharing fun

You can help make the concept of sharing into an enjoyable game for your preschooler. Working on a puzzle or playing a cooperative game together are good ways to show your child that sharing with others, whether it’s a toy or their time, can be rewarding and enjoyable.

Allow your child to understand boundaries around sharing

Sharing is an important skill for preschoolers to learn, but it’s also important to learn that sometimes it’s okay not to share. For example, if your child has a favorite stuffed animal that’s very important to them, let them know it’s okay to put that toy away during a playdate and share other stuffed animals with their friend instead.

You can also teach your preschooler something to say if they’re not ready to share quite yet, like, “I’m still coloring in this book, but when I finish this picture, you can use it.” This can empower them to use their words.

Take sharing at their pace

Sharing will be a relatively new concept to your preschooler, so help them along and remain patient. Let them know that taking turns playing with a toy is only temporary, and the toy will still be theirs in the end. Encourage sharing rather than forcing it.

Helping your preschooler learn about sharing takes patience, but there are several strategies you can employ to help your child learn this important social skill.

Children’s Books About Springtime

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Children's Books About Springtime

Spring is nearly here, and it’s a great time to invite your child to learn more about the season. There are many books about springtime that share fun stories about plant growth, animals, and the changing weather. Here are some children’s books about spring.

Curious George Curious About Spring by H.A. Rey

Age range: 0-3 years

Curious George is a favorite character for young children who are interested to learn more about their world. With colorful illustrations and rhyming text, this book shows George as he explores aspects of spring like puddles, spring cleaning, and bird nests.

Little Bear’s Spring by Elli Woollard

Age range: 2-5 years

In this story, a bear cub wakes up from winter hibernation and discovers spring for the first time. He ventures out of his den to investigate, and meets other animals who teach him the meaning of spring and how it changes their lives.

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

Age range: 4-7 years

A young boy and his dog welcome the end of winter by deciding to plant a spring garden. They’re excited for the growth of their garden, but must learn patience and discover all that goes into new spring growth.

Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum

Age range: 4-8 years

This National Geographic Kids picture book gives children photographic depictions of animals and nature – a great base for you to use to discuss these concepts with your child.

Garden Wigglers: Earthworms in Your Backyard by Nancy Loewen

Age range: 4-9 years

This accessible and informative book helps children link spring rain with the importance of the worms they see after a storm. It shows children where worms live, how they move, what they do in the garden, and many other facts. There’s also an easy at-home experiment children can do to help them see how worms live.

How the Atelier Inspires Children to Learn

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How the Atelier Inspires Children to Learn

In the Reggio Emilia educational approach, the environment is the third teacher. Spaces in Reggio Emilia schools are thoughtful and inviting, and materials in the classroom inspire children to think outside the box.

To encourage this exploration, many Reggio Emilia schools offer an Atelier for children to use in their artistic expression.

What is an Atelier?

“Atelier” means “art studio” or “workshop” in French. A Reggio Emilia Atelier is a welcoming and inspiring place with a wide variety of natural and man-made materials for expression. Either individually or in small groups, small children of all ages create experiences with these different media that will progressively support all their modes of expression.

Inside the Atelier

A bright and welcoming space, the Atelier is designated for children to explore and have fun. Materials like clay, paper, fabric, wire, light, beads, shells, leaves, and wood are available for children to investigate. The Atelier is designed to encourage collaboration as well as creativity, and children can work together with their peers to complete a project or discover new ideas. In the Atelier, the mood is calm and inspiring. Children explore at their own pace, and problem-solve and express themselves without time limits or restrictions.

Ateliers are led by an Atelierista, a teacher who is a partner in the child’s artistic journey. Atelieristas have a playful and spontaneous approach to working with children. While they work to motivate them to engage with the materials, atelieristas carefully observe each child’s process to see how they connect with different languages of expression such as dance, photography, movement, theater and more.

The benefits of a Reggio Emilia Atelier

An Atelier in a Reggio Emilia school encourages experimentation, intuition and spontaneous creativity. The wide variety of materials allows for free expression of ideas. The Atelier, along with other spaces in a Reggio Emilia school, invites children to invent, create and explore themselves through art.

The early exploration of the visual arts offers children endless possibilities. In addition to encouraging creativity and self-expression, exposure to art develops motor skills, cognitive development, and social and emotional skills.

Learn more about how KLA Schools’ Atelier inspires children to learn in the Reggio Emilia approach.

 

Choosing the Best Summer Camp

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Preparing Your Child for Summer Camp

Summer camp is a fun, supportive, and secure place for your child to have fun and learn new things. But how do you know what to look for in a summer camp? Here are some ways you can choose the best summer camp for your child.

Does the camp meet safety and educational standards?

The baseline for a good summer camp is a clean and safe environment for your child, with well-trained staff members. When researching the best summer camp for your child, you might want to ask how staff are screened and educated, if they’re trained in first aid, how children are kept safe, and details on emergency protocol.

You may also want to tour the summer camp to see that all structures and toys are clean, safe, and in good repair. Summer camps don’t require accreditation, but you should ensure that they follow all necessary state regulations.

What activities are offered?

The ideal mix of summer camp activities depends on what your child is interested in, and what you would like them to experience. Some summer camps focus on purely outdoor pursuits, others incorporate indoor activities such as music, sports, arts, or dance.

For example, at KLA Schools Summer Camp, children can explore a range of educational and fun activities such as sports, STEAM projects, learning about animals, and moving art.

What are the camp’s values?

A good summer camp should align with your family’s existing educational values and philosophy. Discuss the camp’s values and philosophy with its directors and ask questions about a typical day, how closely teachers work with children, if children are encouraged to discover things collaboratively, and other things that will help you better understand their philosophy.

Children attending KLA Schools Summer Camp spend time outdoors, and learn several skills such as teamwork, tolerance, self-esteem, and resiliency.

What are the camp’s policies?

A good summer camp will be happy to answer questions about topics like discipline, meals, medical supervision, how they handle conflict, and extra fees or costs. Understanding how a prospective summer camp operates day-to-day can help you decide if it’ll be right for your child.

Will the camp fit with your family’s schedule?

Whether or not you choose an overnight camp or a day camp, your family’s schedule must be considered. For example, ensure that the summer camp’s schedule won’t interfere with a family vacation, or that a day camp’s drop-off and pick-up times fit with your daily schedule.

Summer camp is full of enriching experiences and activities for your child. At KLA Schools Summer Camp, your child will enjoy these activities in a fun, non-competitive, and safe environment.

 

Quick and Healthy Snacks for Children

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Quick and Healthy Snacks for Children

Daily family life can be very busy, and it can seem difficult to find quick and healthy snacks for children. Here are some nutritious and tasty snack ideas for your child, that can be ready in under 30 minutes.

Healthy muffins

Many pre-made muffins can have too much sugar for your child, but when you make your own, you can control the portion size and add healthy ingredients. Muffins are an ideal snack to freeze, and reheat as necessary. Try this Sugar-Free Banana Muffin recipe.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Even if your child is a picky eater, there may be some fruits or vegetables they enjoy. Offering these as a snack is an ideal way to give your child essential nutrients, while encouraging them to eat the food they like. You can create a quick and healthy dip as well, using Greek yogurt, lemon juice, chopped cucumber, and dill.

Pinwheel wraps

Wraps are a quick and easy meal, and cutting them into smaller portions turns them into a healthy snack for your child. Wraps are endlessly customizable depending on your child’s taste, and they can have fun and feel a sense of independence by helping you assemble their wrap. Here are a few healthy pinwheel wrap ideas:

  • Turkey, cream cheese, and lettuce
  • Hummus, cucumber, and carrot
  • Leftover chicken coated in a sauce of ¼ cup peanut butter, ¼ cup warm water, and 1 Tbsp soy sauce, with sliced red pepper
  • Tuna salad with lettuce and cucumber

Mini pizza or quesadilla

Mini pizzas and quesadillas are a quick snack that children can have fun assembling before you cook them. For mini pizzas, use pitas, tomato sauce, and cheese, and for mini quesadillas, use small tortillas and cheese. You can add any cooked meat or veggies that your child likes onto this base.

Affordable Birthday Party Ideas for Children

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Affordable Birthday Party Ideas for Children

Many parents are in the market for a fun and unique way to celebrate their child’s birthday without breaking the bank. Here are some affordable birthday party ideas for children.

  1. Shared birthday party. If your child has a friend whose birthday falls close to your child’s birthday, you might consider combining the two birthdays into one party. This way, you and the other child’s parents can split the costs and combine your efforts. With a shared birthday party, it’s important to ensure that both children feel equally celebrated.
  2. Arts and crafts birthday party. Centering your child’s birthday party on creating an art or crafts project is not only fun and supports your child’s creativity, but it cuts down on the need for another form of entertainment. Additionally, depending on the project, arts and crafts supplies can be obtained reasonably inexpensively.
  3. Movie night at home. With all the streaming services commonly available these days, a fun birthday party for your child can be as easy as choosing a few movies for everyone to watch. Make it a celebration with cozy decorations and bite-sized snacks.
  4. Birthday party outdoors. If the weather allows, holding your child’s birthday party outdoors can allow the children to have fun in an inexpensive way. Many park pavilions, playgrounds, and sports fields can be rented for free or for a small fee. Additionally, you can open up your backyard for fun with water balloons, an obstacle course, or a scavenger hunt.
  5. Dress-up party. Children love to dress up, and a birthday party is a fun and inexpensive opportunity to do so. Look for a theme that won’t involve licensed characters to reduce cost and allow children’s imaginations to flourish. Some examples include favorite animals, fairy tale characters, and superheroes.
  6. Theater party. Whether it’s part of a dress-up party or a celebration on its own, your child and their friends can have inexpensive but engaging fun by putting on a dramatic performance in costume. You can come up with some simple scenarios for them to act out, or leave it up to them. This is an ideal way to support children in developing their creativity, cooperation, and problem-solving.
  7. Sleepover party. Depending on the age of your child, a sleepover party can be a fun and inexpensive celebration. Because the sleepover itself is the main event, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a party. Sleepover parties work best with small groups of children, to make supervision easier.

 

Celebrating Friendship on Valentine’s Day

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Celebrating Friendship on Valentine's Day

We often think of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romantic love, but in many countries it’s a day of friendship. This year, invite your child to celebrate friendship on Valentine’s Day. Here are some ideas.

Create friendship bracelets

Friendship bracelets are a classic childhood craft that are fun and easy for children to make. Your child can make as many as they like, with minimal supplies necessary. They are endlessly customizable with their friend’s favorite colors, and allow your child to express themselves while developing fine motor skills.

Find instructions for Easy Friendship Bracelets with Cardboard Loom here.

Show kindness to others

Becoming involved in the community is a wonderful way for your child to celebrate friendship on Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s a neighbor, best friend, or the new classmate at school, there are many ways you can invite your child to show kindness to others. For example, they draw a picture for their babysitter, or bake cookies with you for your next-door neighbor.

Celebrate friendship

You likely know all about your child’s closest friends, but Valentine’s Day is a great way to celebrate these friendships through open-ended discussion. Invite your child to tell you what they like best about their friends, and share some fun stories. You can also discuss friendship in general, asking your child what they think are the most important qualities in a friend, and ways they can show their friends they care.

Write a letter to a friend

 After discussing your child’s friendships, they may feel like they want to tell their friend how much they care. This is a great opportunity to invite your child to write a letter or draw a picture to a friend, sharing happy memories or thanking them for something specific.

Teaching Hygiene Habits to Children

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Teaching Hygiene Habits to Children

Teaching your child proper hand-washing has become a concern lately, but good hygiene habits are important for children to learn as well. Learning the fundamentals of personal hygiene early will support your child to reduce viruses, infections, tooth decay, rashes, and more.

Instilling hygiene habits in early childhood will support them to build a foundation that will last them well into adulthood. Here are some tips for teaching hygiene habits to children.

  • Model good hygiene habits. Make sure your child sees you doing things like brushing your teeth, wearing clean clothes, or washing your hands regularly. Children look to parents and caregivers for guidance on how to behave, so modeling good personal hygiene will set a good example.
  • Explain germs and bacteria in an age-appropriate way. If your child understands what germs and bacteria are, and how good hygiene can keep them away, they’ll better understand why it’s important. Keep your explanation simple and light, and don’t exaggerate or make germs sound scary.
  • Frame hygiene in a positive light. Even if your child does understand the concept of germs and bacteria, it’s also important to emphasize that personal hygiene is a way to keep their body healthy, and to show self-care. If a child links hygiene habits to positive self-image, they’ll be more likely to carry these habits with them through their older years.
  • Make it fun. Children learn best through play and hands-on experiences, so incorporating some fun into hygiene habits can go a long way. For example, you can listen to their favorite music while they brush their teeth, or them to play with toys in the bath.
  • Encourage independence. When a child has a sense of ownership over a task, they’re more likely to want to do it. Depending on your child’s age, you can invite them to perform certain hygiene tasks on their own, like brushing their teeth for a few seconds before you do the rest, choosing their own clothes every day, or washing their own hair in the bath.
  • Check in often. As they grow, children will encounter different aspects of personal hygiene, so it’s important to revisit it frequently and give reminders if needed. This is also a good way to ensure that your child’s hygiene is becoming a habit.

5 Educational Indoor Activities for Children

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5 Educational Indoor Activities for Children

During the winter months, many parents are looking for educational indoor activities for their children. The good news is there are lots of ways your child can have fun and learn while staying warm at home. Here are 5 educational indoor activities for children.

1) Create indoor science projects

You can create fun experiments for your child at home without a lot of hassle or mess. Here’s one idea. Fill a large bowl with a small amount of water, and mark the water level on the outside of the container. Then, invite your child to place small objects into the water, such as coins, toy cars, or building blocks. Notice the water level rising, and make observations together with your child. Experiment to see which objects make the water level rise more than others. This is a great way to invite your child to learn about buoyancy, volume, and mass.

2) Hold an indoor scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are an ideal way to spark your child’s imagination while inviting them to learn about concepts like colors, numbers, and patterns. Some ideas for indoor scavenger hunts include: Finding a certain number of items of the same color; a letters-based scavenger hunt using letter blocks and magnets; or creating riddles and inviting your child find the items in question.

3) Read some good books

Reading in early childhood builds literacy, creativity, and problem-solving skills. It will also support a lifelong love of learning. When reading with your child, encourage them to interact with the books. This will allow them to create a positive mental link with reading. Another way to deepen your child’s experience of reading is to ask open-ended questions about the story, such as, “Why do you think the dog ran away?”

4) Play make-believe

Children learn through play, and imaginative play helps your child understand certain life concepts and develop problem-solving skills in a safe and controlled environment. Some ideas for make-believe play include: Setting up a mini library with books around the house; having a tea party with stuffed animals as guests; building a city with cardboard boxes or building blocks; or putting on a play complete with costumes.

5) Make an indoor sensory bin

A sensory table or bin is another great way for your to child learn in a hands-on way. A sensory table is typically a low table that holds one or more containers, but a small tub can be used as well. You can fill your sensory bin with mediums like sand and water; and materials such as buttons, scoops, and sponges. Then, your child can investigate the different textures, weights, colors, and behaviors of these objects. A good sensory bin doesn’t need to be overly elaborate – find five at-home sensory table ideas here.

Fostering an Environment of Learning at Home

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Fostering an Environment of Learning at Home

Whether your child is taking classes online or you’re looking for ways to supplement their education at home, there are many ways you can help provide a meaningful learning environment.

Try any or all of these tips to help foster an environment of learning at home.

Create an engaging learning space

The Reggio Emilia educational approach believes in the environment as a third teacher. Learning spaces should be both thoughtful and inviting, and materials should inspire children to think outside the box. No matter how much space you have to work with, look for a way to create an engaging area where your child can learn. For example, a small desk with their favorite colored pencils, crayons, and art materials readily accessible, or a bright corner of the living room where they can read without distraction.

Have learning items within easy reach

Whether it’s art supplies, books, dress-up clothes, or blocks, ensure that your child has easy access to a variety of educational materials. Depending on the age of your child, look for ways they can spontaneously create, build, or learn with minimal setup or supervision by you. When a child pursues their own creative ideas or questions, they can build their learning and development with determination and enthusiasm.

Work together with your child

Whether your child is doing a structured lesson or is investigating an idea of their own, you can work together to foster deeper learning. You can have a two-way discussion about what they’re learning, observe how they attempt to solve a problem, work together on a project, and think of ways you can tweak your environment to build upon your child’s learning.

Get your child involved

No matter your child’s age, you can get them involved in designing their ideal at-home learning environment. It can be as simple as asking your child what would help them learn best, or observing what materials, environments, and scenarios your child seems to respond to well. You can also get your child involved in decorating their space with photos, drawings, and other engaging items to help them have fun while learning at home.

Winter Outdoor Activities for Children

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Winter Outdoor Activities for Children

Depending on where you live, you may be adjusting to keeping your child entertained and active during the winter. There are many outdoor winter activities for children, which can help to reduce the risk of behavior problems, improve attention spans, help them fall asleep at night, and increase their exposure to Vitamin D. Having fun outdoors is often just a matter of bundling up warm and not staying out as long as they do in the summer months.

Here are some winter outdoor activities for children:

Build a snow sculpture

Whether it’s building a person, animal, or fort, snow can be a great medium to enhance your child’s creativity. Be sure to supervise your child to ensure there is no risk of a structure collapsing on them, and enjoy creating with them.

Go for a walk

If the conditions are safe to do so, a winter walk can be fun and educational. With your child, observe the changes that winter brings to the world around you, and have open-ended conversations about these changes. Your child can photograph or draw the things you see on your walk, to further enhance their experience.

Hold a winter-themed scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are an ideal way to help your child hone their problem-solving skills and have fun at the same time. One winter-themed scavenger hunt idea is to get the senses involved: have your child listen for birds, smell a handful of snow, and feel ice.

Bundle up and have a picnic

On a day when the temperatures are tolerable, a winter picnic can be a unique way for the whole family to enjoy winter. It can be as easy as spreading blankets out in your yard or nearby outdoor area, and bringing warm soup and hot chocolate from home. Because the sun’s rays can reflect off snow and ice, be sure to apply sunscreen to your child before your picnic.

These are just a few ways that your child can have fun and stay active outdoors this winter. Above all, ensure that everyone is dressed appropriately, and limit the time spent outside.

 

Developing Your Child’s Fine Motor Skills

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Developing Your Child's Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills involve smaller muscle groups, and develop at different times depending on your child’s age. A baby develops fine motor skills when grasping a toy with both hands, while a preschooler develops fine motor skills when cutting shapes out of paper with safety scissors.

Helping your child to develop their fine motor skills is important, as they’re used in critical life activities such as tooth-brushing, eating, writing, and getting dressed. Here are some ways to develop your child’s fine motor skills.

Try a sensory table

Learning that involves all the senses will help your child develop fine motor skills, improve concentration and coordination, and build critical problem-solving strategies. At home, you can use a plastic tub or even a wading pool to replicate a sensory table. Fill it with items such as popcorn, tennis balls, paper, water, dried pasta, sponges, ice cubes, felt, twigs, or small toys. Encourage your child to use their senses to investigate these items and how they interact with each other.

Enjoy arts and crafts

Whether it’s finger-painting, scribbling with sidewalk chalk, or cutting shapes out of construction paper, arts and crafts offer limitless opportunities for developing fine motor skills. They can explore their creativity while also strengthening their grip, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination.

Get your child involved in the kitchen

Stirring, mixing, and pouring ingredients are ideal ways to help your child develop their fine motor skills. There are many age-appropriate ways you can get your child involved in the kitchen, with your supervision and assistance. This is also an ideal way to help teach your child about the food we eat, and create fond memories.

Look for games involving dexterity and hand-eye coordination

Dexterity and hand-eye coordination are fine motor skills that a child can practice and develop. You can help make it fun with hands-on activities and games that focus on these actions. For example, construction or stacking blocks, threading beads on a string, interactive songs like “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” and playing with clay are some engaging kid-friendly activities to strengthen dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

Fine motor skills are involved in many important self-care and life activities, both in early childhood and beyond. These are just some ways you can help your child develop their fine motor skills.

Cold and Flu Prevention for Children

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Cold and Flu Prevention for Children

The pandemic has made us all more aware of the importance of hand-washing and staying safe from exposure to illness. However, cold and flu season is still a concern for many families. Here are some precautions you can take to lower the odds of your child getting a cold or the flu this season.

  • Help your child wash their hands before and after every meal, after using the toilet, and after playing outside. Ensure they’re also wearing a mask and sanitizing their hands when necessary, such as while running errands with you, or on the playground.
  • Sanitize high-touch surfaces in your home, such as doorknobs, light switches, and countertops.
  • Teach your child to cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow instead of their hands.
  • Ensure your child doesn’t share things with other children that come into contact with mouths or faces, such as cups, straws, or scarves.
  • Monitor your child for signs of cold and flu, and encourage them to be honest with you about how they’re feeling.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the yearly flu vaccine, which protects against viruses that research suggests will be common that year.
  • Strengthen your child’s immunity with healthy foods and plenty of sleep.
  • Exercise helps boost the immune system as well, so encourage your child to stay active and play outdoors as often as possible.

When should your child see the doctor about a cold or flu? Nemours KidsHealth recommends taking your child to their doctor if they:

  • seem to be getting worse
  • have trouble breathing
  • have a high fever
  • have a bad headache
  • have a sore throat
  • seem confused
  • have severe belly pain
  • have pain or pressure in the chest
  • have trouble staying awake
  • look bluish in the lips or face

Family New Year Celebrations

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Family New Year Celebrations

The end of the year is an ideal time to celebrate as a family, look back on the year, and plan for the year ahead. Here are some family-friendly New Year celebration ideas.

Ideas for a family-friendly New Year’s Eve

  • Discuss your favorite family moments of the year. Take some time as a family to share your favorite memories and stories. You can encourage your child to draw the memory, to help them get involved.
  • Create a scrapbook or time capsule. A scrapbook or time capsule can be unique ways to create a snapshot of your child’s life at a particular time. Some ideas for a time capsule include a photo of your child, a drawing, an example of their handwriting such as a story or their name, small mementos from the year, even a small item of clothing. You can store the scrapbook or time capsule in a small box, and uncover it next year for a fun memory.
  • Set family goals for the new year. Thinking about the end of the year is a great time to plan for the next year. Try setting family goals for the new year.
  • Have a family movie night on New Year’s Eve. A New Year’s Eve movie night is ideal for younger children who can’t stay up until midnight. Choose your family’s favorite movies and start a new tradition.
  • Discover how the New Year is celebrated in other places. The new year is commemorated in different ways around the world, and in different cultures. Together, you and your child can share New Year celebrations, and discover new ones. You can even go online and celebrate the New Year as it happens in different time zones.

Ideas for a family-friendly New Year’s Day

  • Create a new food tradition.  Whether you’re sleeping in or have fun activities planned, try creating a new food tradition for the first day of the year. You can also explore traditional New Year’s Day foods from around the world, such as soba noodles, tamales, or lentils.
  • Spend time outdoors. No matter what the weather is like where you live, there’s most likely an outdoor activity that’s family-friendly and fun. Start the year off with your family by enjoying fresh air and some quality time.
  • Show gratitude and compassion for others. The proximity of New Year’s Eve to the holiday season makes it easy to show your child that compassion for others is a year-round concern. On New Year’s Day, discuss ways you can show kindness to those less fortunate throughout the year, or even right away.
  • Do something new. What’s more appropriate for a new family tradition than the first day of a new year? Enjoying a special dinner, a specific movie, or a fun family activity is a great way to create lasting family memories.

Holiday Books for Children

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Holiday Books for Children

The holidays are here, and it’s a fun time for children and adults alike. Here are some ideas of holiday books for children, whether it’s to help them understand your own family’s holiday celebrations, or learn more about different traditions.

Baby Touch and Feel Merry Christmas by DK

Age range: 0-2 years

This hands-on book allows your infant to experience the Christmas season with their senses, featuring familiar holiday textures such as a stocking, a stuffed animal, and even Santa’s beard.

Llama Llama Jingle Bells by Anna Dewdney

Age range: 0-3 years

This colorful and fun board book follows Llama Llama as he participates in traditional Christmas activities such as baking cookies, decorating, and delivering gifts to friends.

All Aboard the Holiday Train by Roger Priddy

Age range: 3-5 years

This toddler-friendly interactive board book will help your child deliver gifts around the world with press-out train and gift pieces that they can slide through the pages. They’ll develop hand-eye coordination while learning about holiday giving.

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S Perl

Age range: 3+ years

In this heartwarming holiday story, Max and Rachel have moved into a new apartment during Hannukah, only to discover that their box of supplies is missing. So, they get to know their neighbors and ask for help celebrating Hannukah in a new way with their new friends.

Home for the Holidays: A Book for Kids About the Different Holidays That Bring Us Together by Craig Manning

Age range: 4-7 years

Your child’s favorite Sesame Street characters celebrate all kinds of holidays in this colorful book. You and your child can learn more about different festivities from around the world and celebrate togetherness and kindness.

A World of Cookies for Santa by ME Furman

Age range: 4-7 years

Help your child learn about Christmas traditions from around the world with this book. With vivid illustrations and compelling text, your child will learn about the different sweet treats children all over the world leave for Santa to enjoy.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

Age range: 5-9 years

Many winter holidays focus on giving thanks for each other, and celebrating light during the darkness of the season. This book centers around a winter solstice poem, and highlights the historical ways that people have celebrated during winter.

Reggio Emilia Examples in the Classroom

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Reggio Emilia Examples in the Classroom

The Reggio Emilia early childhood educational philosophy is based on principles of respect, responsibility, and community. The approach believes that “a child has a hundred languages.” The approach unites and develops all languages: innovation, nature, construction, fantasy, art, music, dance, building, writing, talking, signing, science, body, and soul. These multiple languages are used to help children build knowledge and understand the world around them.

At the core of the Reggio Emilia concept is the child’s natural curiosity of their world coupled with a respect for the countless qualities and values that we believe each child is born with.

Reggio Emilia examples

Here are some examples of Reggio Emilia in the classroom:

  • Digging and pouring in a sensory table
  • Experimenting with art and drawing on an easel, paper, or other materials
  • Discovering insects, leaves, and flowers, and sorting and collecting things they find in the playground
  • Planning discussions to encourage children to verbalize their ideas and promote conversations amongst them
  • Setting up opportunities around the classroom for children to explore the world of the written code: books, notepads and writing tools, labels, maps, and more
  • Inviting children to document their thoughts and ideas through photographs, discussions, videos, or voice recordings
  • Dancing, jumping, running, kicking, climbing, and other physical movements
  • Engaging with music, sound, and singing
  • Playing and investigating outdoors to learn about the world around them
  • Investigating dramatic play storylines and ideas, involving cooperation and creative expression, and finding expressions of ideas
  • Encouraging collaboration and problem-solving amongst children themselves, and between children and teachers

The Reggio Emilia Approach emphasizes a child’s abilities, competences, and natural aptitude. It encourages the development of new and inherent talents. These qualities will help a child to embark on and prosper in life with confidence and skill, especially in future educational endeavors. Additionally, learning will take place through positive relationships and caring adults.

Considerations for a Family Pet

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Considerations for a Family Pet

A pet is a treasured member of the family, and many children are excited to welcome one into the home. However, when bringing a pet into your family, there are several considerations to make beforehand.

Consider your family’s health

Allergies are a common reason for not getting a family pet. If you and your family are thinking of getting a pet, you may want to bring your child to their pediatrician for tests to determine if they’re allergic to things such as pet dander or fur. While some pet allergies are severe, there may be situations where a lighter allergy situation may not be a deterrent for getting a pet. You may need to investigate to find the right pet for your family’s health concerns.

Choose the right type of pet for your family

There are many types of pets that range in size, space requirements, exercise needs, lifestyle requirements, and costs involved in caring for it. For example, a guinea pig does not need as much space, grooming, and exercise as a dog. It’s important to make this decision as a family, regardless of what each individual’s preferences are. A good compromise will help you find a family pet that suits your entire family best.

Discuss a schedule and rules

Your child may be thinking most about playing with your new family pet, but it’s important to have a family discussion about the realities of pet care. Discuss a feeding, walking, and grooming schedule, and who will do what. Ensure your child knows the appropriate safety rules for animals, and that they need to be gentle and considerate of your pet’s personal space.

Prepare in advance

You can get your child involved by bringing them to help you choose pet items like a collar, leash, bed, and food. Also, ask your child to help you make your home and yard more pet-friendly. These are great chances to show your child that taking care of a pet is an important responsibility.

Teach your child patience and empathy

Even if you’ve explained to your child how to safely approach and play with the new family pet beforehand, excitement may take over once your pet is in your home. It’s important to monitor your child and pet closely. Watch for signs of stress in the pet, and make sure that your child is being calm and gentle.

Model empathy around your pet by letting your child see you treating it appropriately. You can also help your child see how confusing it is for your pet to enter a new home, and come up with ways you can help.

The benefits of a family pet for a child are numerous – studies have shown that a pet can help a child learn, reduce anxiety, practice caregiving, and build family bonds. Keep these considerations in mind before bringing home the next member of your family.

How to Teach Your Child About Honesty

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How to Teach Your Child About Honesty

Even though lying isn’t an ideal behavior in children, it’s a common part of their development. In fact, research has shown that, on average, four-year-olds tell a lie every two hours. No matter their age group, children tell lies for many reasons, ranging from a vivid imagination, to not wanting to disappoint a parent, to exploring their own independence.

Despite this, there are ways to help teach your child about honesty.

Model honesty

Children of all ages naturally look to their parents and caregivers for guidance on how to behave and deal with different situations. Modeling honesty yourself is a powerful way to impart the lesson to your child. For example, let your child see you taking ownership of your mistakes and apologizing instead of inventing an excuse.

Talk about lying and telling the truth

When young children are just learning about honesty and lies, it can seem confusing. For example, insisting that their stuffed rabbit is a lion, and blaming a broken toy on a sibling are two very different types of lies. Help your child understand the different consequences of lies. In addition, help them to understand that some things can hurt people’s feelings even if they’re true or your child believes they’re true. Tact is a skill that takes practice, so help your child understand how honesty and compassion are linked.

Encourage open discussion of feelings

Being able to be honest about your emotions is an important life skill for your child to learn. Encourage your child to talk to you about how they feel and listen without judgement. Additionally, while you may want to hide your own sadness or worry from your child, being honest about your feelings will help them see that it’s okay to share and discuss all types of emotions. When your child sees that you are open to anything they have to share, they may also be more likely to turn to you with difficult topics as they get older.

Make a positive association with honesty

If your child is honest about something, thank them – especially if it was a difficult situation for them, such as admitting that they broke something or hit their sibling. You don’t need to ignore the consequences of their actions, but acknowledging their honesty will show them that it’s good to tell the truth.

Remove opportunities for lying

If you’ve caught your child doing something they shouldn’t, such as making a mess, it can be tempting to ask, “Did you do this?” However, this might have the opposite effect. It can give your child an opportunity to try lying to try getting out of trouble. Instead of forcing a confession, say something like, “I see you’ve knocked the clean laundry over. I spent a long time folding it and now it has to be done again.” Then, depending on their age, they can help you re-fold the laundry, or bring you the clothing that they’ve knocked over.

Children of all ages tell lies for different reasons. However, by fostering an atmosphere of honesty and focusing on positive discussions of emotions, you can help teach your child about honesty.

15 Ideas for Children to Practice Gratitude

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15 Ideas for Children to Practice Gratitude

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and many of us are thinking about what we’re grateful for. It’s an ideal time to help your child make gratitude a regular part of life. Studies have shown that children who are taught to be grateful see the following benefits:

  • Reduced stress
  • Increased happiness at school
  • Better performance in school
  • Fewer stomachaches and headaches
  • Improved relationships
  • Reduced materialism

Here are 15 age-appropriate ideas to help your child practice gratitude:

  • Model gratitude, such as volunteering, saying please and thank you, complimenting others, or doing a good deed without expecting anything in return.
  • Before bed or at dinner, share one thing that brightened your day.
  • Practice looking on the bright side of things. For example, if your child is upset about a rainy day, talk about how much fun they can have making a pillow fort or reading their favorite books.
  • At the beginning of the week, discuss some nice things you’re looking forward to doing for family or friends.
  • Create a family gratitude list, where every family member can write down things they’re grateful for. Keep it in a prominent location so everyone can add to it when they have something they’re thankful for.
  • Ask for help around the house in age-appropriate ways, such as setting the table or putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
  • Encourage your child to write a quick thank-you note to a teacher, friend, or someone they feel thankful for.
  • Ask your child to draw something or someone that they’re grateful for.
  • Explain to your child that some kids like them don’t have enough clothes or toys, and ask them if they want to help by choosing a toy or some clothes to donate.
  • Set boundaries and stick to them. If a child can’t get their way all the time, they will learn to not take things for granted.
  • When giving gifts, emphasize to your child why that gift will make the recipient happy. This will help your child connect gift-giving with compassion and caring.
  • Read books about gratitude together, and discuss the story.
  • Go for a gratitude walk. As a family, look around and point out the things around you that make you happy. This is an ideal way to help your child learn to respect nature as well.
  • Help your child work through envy by encouraging them to highlight their own positive traits and skills. Remind them that everyone has different circumstances in life.
  • Praise your child if you notice them doing something nice for another person, such as sharing a toy with their sibling, or holding a door open for someone.

These 15 ways to teach your child gratitude are just a few ways you can incorporate gratitude into your child’s daily life, both at Thanksgiving and year-round.

Autumn Crafts for Children

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Autumn Crafts for Children

Spend some quality time with your child and encourage their creativity with these four fun and engaging fall crafts for children.

Pumpkin apple stamps

An apple cut in half resembles a pumpkin shape, making this a fall craft that’s fun for the Halloween season, and affordable and easy. Cut an apple in half and pat it dry thoroughly. Then, put some orange paint on a piece of thick paper and have your child dip the apple half cut-side down into the paint, and stamp it onto another paper. You can create a green stem using paint, crayon, or a pipe cleaner. Once the pumpkin apple stamp is dry, your child can decorate their creation further.

Autumn leaf prints

This is another craft requires little more than fall-colored paints and natural materials. Have your child collect a variety of their favorite autumn leaves. Then, at home, squirt some paint onto a thick piece of paper and give your child a foam brush or piece of sponge so they can paint directly onto their leaf. Help them to press the leaf, paint-side down, onto a piece of paper, and peel it off gently.

Fall-themed yarn wrapping

This craft uses simple items, and is an ideal way to help your child develop their fine motor skills. All you’ll need is some thin cardboard such as an empty cereal box, yarn in fall colors, and scotch tape. On the cardboard, trace and cut out some classic autumn shapes such as pumpkins, leaves, and apples. Depending on your child’s age, they can help with this part or do it on their own. Cut a length of yarn and secure one end to the cut-out shape. Then, have your child wind the piece of yarn around and around the shape until it’s covered.

Leaf rubbing

Creating a leaf rubbing not only helps your child engage with nature and their own creativity, but it can help them to learn more about the different parts of a leaf as well. You’ll need a variety of leaves, crayons or colored pencils, and tracing, parchment, or wax paper. Find out how to make leaf rubbings here.

Fall Outdoor Activities for Families

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Fall Outdoor Activities for Families

Cooler fall weather often makes us think of bundling up and staying indoors. While a cozy fall day at home can be fun, there are many ways your family can still enjoy the great outdoors. Try one of these fall outdoor activities for families.

  • Go on a nature walk. Fall is a season of many changes in nature, and it’s an ideal time to help your child appreciate these changes. Together, go out and collect fallen leaves, spot migratory birds, watch squirrels preparing for winter, or notice any changes in leaves, plants, and flowers.
  • Visit a farm or orchard. Your local farm is a great place for your child to learn more about the seasonality of food. Many farms also offer family-friendly activities such as hayrides and petting zoos.
  • Pick apples or choose pumpkins. Picking your own apples from the orchard or selecting the best pumpkin to bring home are two classic fall activities that the whole family can enjoy.
  • Go to a farmer’s market. A farmer’s market is an ideal resource to help your child learn about the different food in season at this time of year. Help your child choose in-season ingredients and plan a fall family meal.
  • Have a picnic or barbecue. Many of us associate picnics and barbecues with high summer, but the cooler, mosquito-free days of fall are great for eating outdoors. You can make things more cozy by bundling up with sweaters, and bringing extra blankets along.
  • Find your way through a corn maze. Many farms or local fall festivals feature a maze through a corn field, and this can be a fun family activity. You can work together to find your way out, or break off into teams. Some corn mazes feature themes or scavenger hunts, as well.
  • Take a family bike ride. Whether or not the leaves are changing where you live, a fall family bike ride is an ideal activity to celebrate the season. Not only can you appreciate the changing nature around you, but the cooler weather might make it more enjoyable for younger children as well.
  • Play with leaves. Jumping into a pile of leaves is a classic fall activity that children love, but there are other ways that families can enjoy the autumn leaves. For example, try raking the leaves in your yard into a maze pattern for you and your children.

With these fun fall outdoor activities, the whole family can enjoy the cooler autumn days.

Educational Benefits of Music

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Educational Benefits of Music

Whether it’s dancing, singing, or playing along, children love music. More than just a fun activity, music has several educational benefits as well. Here are four educational benefits of music for children.

Music improves math skills

Pattern recognition and counting are fundamental building blocks of math, and music helps children learn these concepts. Because songs feature repeating beats, rhythm, and time signatures, children gain early exposure to pattern recognition and fractions while listening and even playing along.

Music helps with language processing

In addition to pattern recognition as a fundamental math skill, understanding patterns of sounds and words also help in language development. According to Susan Hallam of the University of London’s Institute of Education, speech and music share a number of processing systems in the brain. Music helps children to recognize and repeat words, and understand their meaning.

Music improves memory

Traditional music education relies on memorizing notes, lyrics, and the correct way to read music. But even at a basic level, music can help children to recall information, as it’s easily stored in our memories. In addition, music improves working memory, used in reasoning and problem-solving. Studies have shown that musicians have better selective focus and can recall tasks easier than non-musicians.

Music encourages the formation of neural connections

According to Dr Eric Rasmussen of Johns Hopkins University, studies have shown that “children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training.” Whether it’s playing an instrument, singing along, or listening to their favorite songs, children who are exposed to music can see increased formation of neural connections.

Understanding Children’s Tantrums

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Understanding Children's Tantrums

When your child has a tantrum, you may feel a loss of control as well as confusion over what to do to help your child. Tantrums are a normal facet of early childhood development, but here are some reasons why they happen, and what you can do to help.

Why do tantrums happen?

  • A young child’s prefrontal cortex is not yet fully developed. The prefrontal cortex is associated with self-control, and stress can overwhelm this underdeveloped part of the brain.
  • Tantrums are most common in toddlers who don’t yet have the vocabulary to express their feelings in words. They get frustrated at not being understood, or not being able to communicate what they want.
  • Frequent reasons for tantrums are anxiety, hunger, tiredness, being uncomfortable, sensory processing issues, or a desire for independence.
  • Children usually aren’t having a tantrum on purpose. They may have inadvertently learned that a meltdown is what gets them what they want.

Tips to help your child deal with tantrums

Try these tips to help your child before, during, and after a tantrum. Above all, remain calm and compassionate. Ensure your child knows you love them and are there to keep them safe.

  • Understand your child’s tantrum triggers. For example, avoid taking them on errands close to mealtimes when they may be hungry and cranky.
  • Praise positive behavior. If you notice your child is doing something positive like sharing a toy with a sibling or saying please, reinforce this behavior with praise.
  • Give your child a small amount of control. Often, tantrums arise because a child wants to do something on their own, or make their own decision. Try letting your child make independent decisions in a controlled environment. For example, you can ask them to choose between three movies for family movie night, or let them pick where they want to go on a neighborhood walk.
  • Try distraction. Often, a tantrum can be avoided by diverting your child’s attention at the right moment, or moving them to a different location.
  • Stay calm during a tantrum. If your child is having a tantrum, resist the urge to give in and inadvertently reinforce the behavior. Instead, try to ignore it or move your child to a different area. Some parents also use a time-out strategy, with older children being told they can return when they are calm. This gives the child a sense of control over the situation and their emotions.
  • Discuss your child’s feelings. After a tantrum has passed, give your child a hug and have an empathetic, two-way conversation about the experience with them. This can help you both understand what happened and why, and figure out what to do next time.
  • Teach your child coping strategies. When your child is calm, help them practice some self-soothing behaviors for the next time they feel angry or anxious, such as singing their favorite song, leaving the room, or taking three deep breaths.

Tantrums usually stop in time, as a child grows and builds their cooperation, communication, and emotional regulation skills. These tips can help you understand your child’s tantrums, and help them to get through it.

Is Your Child a Picky Eater? How to Help

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Is Your Child a Picky Eater? How to Help

If your child is a picky eater, it can be concerning. You may worry about your child not getting enough nutrients, and may also feel badly for your child’s experience. Picky eating is a way your child can assert their independence and understand their world. Fussiness is normal in young children, but if you’re concerned, here are some ways you can help a picky eater feel more comfortable with food.

Remain positive and relaxed

If your child is refusing food, it can be stressful – especially if they feel they’re disappointing you. However, remaining positive and flexible will help your child feel more relaxed about the situation. Offer your child food in a positive way, and model enjoyment about different foods. Don’t worry about every mouthful your child eats, and praise them for trying. This will help them make positive associations with mealtimes.

Start small

Even as adults, many of us investigate a new kind of food with a single bite or piece of it. Children are no different. If you’re introducing a new food to your picky eater, give them a very small amount to start with, and offer encouragement and praise.

Take advantage of what they already like

You may also see success by giving your child a small amount of a new food along with a food they already enjoy. You may also try “food chaining,” where you encourage your child to try a different version of a food they already like. This way, the presentation and cooking style of the food may be different, but the textures and/or flavors are the same.

Get your child involved

If a child feels a sense of control or ownership over their food, they may feel more willing to eat more things. Take your child grocery shopping and ask them to help you pick out the fruits, vegetables, and other nourishing food on your list. Encourage them to choose colors and textures they like. You can also ask for help around mealtimes, such as setting the table. Playing music during meal preparation, cutting food into fun shapes, and having a special picnic are other examples of ways to help your child have positive associations with eating.

Try these easy recipes you and your child can make together.

Invite an adventurous friend over for a meal

If your child has a friend who is a more adventurous eater, invite them over for a meal. A recent Penn State study showed that preschoolers were more likely to taste mango when they saw a classmate do it. Resist making direct comparisons between the two children. Instead, let them enjoy their time together. Even if your child doesn’t end up liking the food they try, they will start to see that simply trying it is okay.

Be patient

Sometimes, your child will seem to revert, deciding that they don’t like a certain food after all. This isn’t a step backwards. Continue to expose your child to this food without pressure or judgement, and they may feel comfortable enough to try it again soon.

How to Encourage a Child’s Love of Reading

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How to Encourage a Child's Love of Reading

Literacy is a critical skill for a child to learn, and it’s also ideal for a child’s natural curiosity and imagination. Whether your child needs some encouragement to open a book or if they already love storytime, try these tips to encourage your child’s love of reading.

Keep reading material available at home

Children model what you do, and having books, magazines, and newspapers as part of your everyday life will show them that reading is important and interesting. Let your child see you reading for pleasure as well as to learn, and ensure that they have their own age-appropriate books within easy reach at all times. Dr Alice Sterling Honig, a child development expert at Syracuse University, says “Surrounding kids with books at an early age gets them hooked.”

Read aloud to your child

Reading aloud to your child is a fun way to enjoy a book together. Your interest and enthusiasm will show your child that reading is enjoyable, and it’s an ideal way to spend quality time together. While reading with your child, ask open-ended questions about the story and characters to help keep your child engaged and participating in the process.

Go with what your child likes

No matter their age, children will have their preferences when it comes to reading. Allowing your child to select their own books will strengthen their positive connection to reading, and show them that books are fun. Visit your local library or bookstore often and let your child’s interest guide them – whether it’s comic books, graphic novels, audiobooks, or more traditional books.

Be patient with your child

If your child is struggling with reading, reassure them that it’s normal, and that you’ll help support them. One option some parents use with struggling readers is buddy-reading, where you and your child read a book together, each one reading alternate paragraphs or pages. Consult your child’s teacher for more advice if you need help encouraging your child to read.

Helping your child learn to love reading is immensely valuable. Above all, make reading fun for your child, and they’ll soon return to it again and again.

Safe School Year Tips

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Safe School Year Tips

With a new school year comes many safety considerations. Here are some ways you can help keep your child safe while going to and from school, and during their day.

Safety tips during the school day

During this pandemic, many children are concerned about staying safe and healthy. Have a two-way conversation about how your child is feeling, and help them to adopt some coping strategies, such as wearing a mask, washing or sanitizing their hands frequently, and following their teacher’s advice. Remind them that many people are working hard to keep everyone safe, and that they can always talk to their teacher or you if they are anxious.

Outside of pandemic considerations, the following tips will help to keep your child healthy and safe at school.

  • Label your child’s clothing or backpack with their name in a hidden location.
  • Depending on your child’s age, make sure they know their full name, their address, your full name, and how to reach you. Knowing the name and contact info of a trusted neighbor or family member is a good idea too.
  • Discover and familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures in place at your child’s school.
  • A child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of your child’s weight, and should be carried on both shoulders.
  • Teach your child the basics of playground safety, such as not running while on the equipment, ensuring they hold on to any handrails or guardrails, and to watch out for other children. 

Safety tips for walking to school

 It’s recommended that you or a trusted adult walk your child to school if they’re younger than 10 years old. Walking to school with other children can also add extra safety.

  • Walk the route to and from school with your child to ensure that they are very familiar with it.
  • Teach your child to stop and look both ways when crossing the street, and to only cross at proper intersections when it’s safe to do so.
  • Ensure that your child doesn’t take shortcuts on their walk.
  • Make sure your child obeys any crossing guards on their route.
  • If possible, dress your child in bright colors or lighter shades so they are extra visible to drivers.
  • Teach your child never to talk to strangers, approach their car, or accept rides. Many families create a special password that is only known by trusted adults.
  • Help your child identify “safe” adults that they can turn to in an emergency, such as uniformed police officers, other parents, or crossing guards.

Safety tips when driving to school

  • Double-check that your child’s car seat or booster seat is in good repair and still the appropriate size for your child.
  • Ensure that your child has their seat belt buckled before driving.
  • Teach your child to enter and exit the car on the curb side. If exiting on the traffic side is necessary, help your child to do it.
  • Pick up and drop off your child as close to their school as possible, and make sure they’re on school grounds or inside the building before you leave.
  • Watch for children who may dart out from between parked cars. Be prepared to stop suddenly if necessary.

Safety tips for the school bus

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends you teach your child the “SAFE” acronym for bus safety:

  • Stay five steps away from the curb.
  • Always wait for the bus driver to tell you when to board.
  • Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
  • Exit the bus when it stops, look left-right-left, and take five steps away from the bus toward the curb.

 

The Importance of Going Back to School for Children

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importance of going back to school for children

Going back to school is always a big event for children and parents alike, and going back to school during a pandemic can feel like an even bigger event. If you’ve determined that it’s safe for your child to go back to school this fall, here are some reasons why it’s important for children.

Play is essential for learning in early childhood

It’s no secret that children learn through play, and playing with their peers also lends a social element to a child’s education. According to Kansas State University child development specialist Bradford Wiles, children “need to be able to play and interact. It makes a huge difference in their development.”

School provides a valuable routine

Children thrive on routine. Being able to predict what will happen throughout the day gives them increased independence and confidence, greater self-control, and helps them to reduce their stress. Even though in-person schooling during the pandemic may seem different than before, it still provides your child with a valuable routine.

School gives children additional resources

For many parents, taking care of children while working from home has added a lot of extra tasks. When children return to school, not only does it take some pressure off parents, but they also get access to healthy meals and extra programs such as music, sports, and art. Your child’s teacher is your parenting partner, and is there to support you and your child.

The Role of Teachers in Early Childhood Education

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The Role of Teachers in Early Childhood Education

The education that your child receives in their first few years of life is critically important. Early childhood education imparts several benefits including fewer behavioral problems, greater success in later education, and improved mental health.

Here are a few examples of the things early childhood education teachers do in the classroom to help give your child the best possible foundation for success.

Infants

Early childhood educators soothe and nurture build a sense of confidence in infants by responding quickly and appropriately to their natural cues. For example, they hold, talk, and sing to infants in a quiet reassuring voice and make eye contact with them. Infants imitate sounds they hear and experiment with facial expressions that they see adults making. The rudimentary communication of infants includes pointing, raising hands, and making different movements and sounds. The educator encourages this communication by asking questions connecting to the movement or to the sound.

Infants learn with all their senses, and a good early childhood educator offers multiple sensorial experiences with materials such as paint, clay, sand, light and shadows, and much more. In addition, early childhood educators prepare various large motor experiences for infants. These take place inside the classroom, around the common areas of the school, and outside. This way, infants challenge themselves physically and develop gross motor skills.

Younger Toddlers

Younger toddlers between 12-24 months are learning how to walk, run, and jump, and good early childhood educators observe a toddler’s interaction with the environment, materials, and each other. These observations are used to identify a toddler’s interests and what they’re most curious about. As a toddler’s fine motor skills evolve, their early childhood educators provide multiple opportunities for sensory experiences, painting, scribbling, moving, dancing, discovering nature, and expressing themselves with art.

Empathy, pretend play, and social roles are explored as educators help toddlers navigate their first relationships and begin to create their own identity.

Two-Year-Olds

Two-year-olds are learning to become more independent. They want to do more things for themselves such as eating, washing hands, dressing themselves, and learning to use the toilet. Through various sensorial, fine motor, and gross motor experiences, early childhood educators encourage two-year-olds to become self-sufficient in a safe environment.

A good early childhood educator will offer a variety of opportunities for two-year-olds to experiment with art and drawing and begin to give meaning to the shapes and symbols they create, including early forms of letters and numbers.

Early childhood educators create opportunities for conversations to help expand your child’s comprehension and literacy skills. Regular reading helps two-year-olds build new vocabulary. Educators connect stories with objects and events in children’s lives so that they learn that print and pictures have a meaning. Educators will ask open-ended questions and to encourage children to verbalize their ideas and promote conversations amongst them. These discussions help two-year-olds develop skills such as problem solving, collaboration, understanding cause and effect, sharing and how to be a member of a group.

Three-Year-Olds

Most three-year-olds express themselves in sentences and are able to recite simple rhymes and ask questions. Early childhood educators will ask open-ended questions and hold meaningful conversations with three-year-olds to encourage their language skills and learn how to express themselves. Educators will also encourage interactions between children where they can exchange knowledge and build social skills

Three-year-olds use all their senses to learn about their world, and a good early childhood educator will expose them to many sensorial materials such as paint and clay. These open-ended materials support the children in developing divergent thinking, problem solving skills, and creativity.

Early childhood educators encourage three-year-olds to begin to tell stories through art, writing, and reading. This helps children understand that print carries a message and the words we speak can be written and read; that stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. They are encouraged to recognize key ideas and details of stories.Three-year-olds are learning how to create letters and write basic words, and are aware of the uses of writing. Educators support this process encouraging children to explore books, notepads and writing tools, labels, maps, and more.

While a three-year-olds gross motor skills become stronger, early childhood educators encourage activities such as running, throwing and catching a ball, dancing, climbing, jumping, assembling puzzles, painting, and drawing.

Preschoolers

Four-year-olds develop greater self-control, independence, and enjoy trying new experiences. They begin communicating in more complex and compound sentences, and frequently initiate conversations and show interest in two-way discussion. Early childhood educators encourage four-year-olds to have discussions, tell stories, and document and record their experiences and thoughts through photographs, discussions, videos, or voice recordings. They also promote social interactions both amongst the children and with other educators.

Four-year-olds are able to recognize many letters, and understand that letters represent the sounds in spoken words and may associate some letters with their sounds. Early childhood educators encourage four-year-olds to combine their imaginations with letters and words at this stage, both in writing and in art.

Early childhood educators encourage the development of motor skills in ways such as walking, climbing, jumping, hopping, skipping, marching, throwing, catching, kicking, dancing, holding writing tools, mastering buttons, and tying shoelaces.

Four-year-olds are very curious, and a good early childhood educator uses science and engineering practices to help children better understand their communities, economic and ecosystems as well as the physical earth in which they exist.

What Parents Can Expect the First Few Weeks of School

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What Parents Can Expect the First Few Weeks of School

Going back to school is a significant event in a child’s life, and it isn’t always an easy transition. Here are some things parents can expect in the first few weeks of your child being back at school.

  • Your child may experience separation anxiety at drop-off time. Here are some ways to help handle back-to-school separation anxiety.
  • Increased tiredness. Your child is learning a lot of new things and having new experiences, and it can make them more tired than usual.
  • Increased emotions. Some children respond to new experiences with increased emotions or energy. Help your child work through these feelings and give them opportunities to play and get their energy out.
  • More meltdowns. Adjusting to the school year can be bumpy, and it’s possible that your child can get upset quicker than before. Try to be patient, and encourage relaxing activities at home.
  • Adjustments to the routine. Even if you’ve practiced your school-year routine before the first day of school, your child may still have days when it’s more difficult than others. Remain patient and flexible, and keep trying.
  • Your child may need more downtime than expected. Depending on your child, they may want to have more alone time or quiet time during the first few weeks of school in order to help them recharge.
  • Shifting friendships at school. Children are often still getting to know each other for several weeks after school starts, so your child may not have a consistent set of friends for a while. This is normal, but encourage your child to talk about their feelings if they seem upset about it.

To help your child adjust to the first few weeks of school, try keeping their home life as consistent and predictable as possible. This will allow them a safe environment to process their feelings and get used to the new school routine. Try to not schedule any major events or classes for your child during the first few weeks or school, and talk to your child’s teacher for advice if needed.

Preparing Your Child for Their First Day of School

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Preparing Your Child for Their First Day of School

The first day of school is a significant adjustment. Whether your child is excited or nervous, there are several ways you can help prepare your child for their first day of school. Try these tips as early as you can.

Set realistic expectations

Many parents are excited about a child’s first day of school, but the child doesn’t always feel the same. It’s normal for a child to be anxious or even scared about their first day of school. You can help your child deal with these emotions by setting realistic expectations. For example, you can tell your child what is likely to happen on their first day, and answer any questions they may have with age-appropriate honesty and compassion. This way, they can start getting used to the idea well before the big day.

Encourage conversation

When discussing your child’s first day of school, ask open-ended questions such as, “What do you feel when you think about going back to school?” or “What do you think you’ll do at school?” Then, respond with empathy and help them to find coping strategies. For example, you can say, “I remember being scared of talking to people during my first few days of school. Do you think you can practice by just saying hi to people when you get to your class?” Respectful conversation and discussing coping strategies will help them to feel understood, and more confident.

Start your school routine early

In the week or two before the first day of school, start slowly adjusting to your school year routine. If they’re already used to the new routine when school starts, they may have an easier time adjusting when the time comes. Some ideas include: have breakfast together at the same time each morning, walk or drive to school and back, pack their backpack, and prepare packed lunches or snacks.

Get your child involved

Encouraging your child’s participation and assistance in getting ready for the first day of school can help them more comfortable about the adjustment. Look for ways to give your child a sense of control about going back to school. Here are some ideas:

  • Go shopping for school supplies with them
  • Have them choose their own backpack
  • At home, encourage them to practice packing their backpack
  • Let them pick out one special school outfit or clothing item such as shoes
  • Read books about the first day of school together

With these tips, you can help your child prepare for their first day of school and become more confident for the big day.

Fun and Unique Holidays Families Can Celebrate

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Fun and Unique Holidays Families Can Celebrate

Many of us celebrate bigger holidays in some way, such as Independence Day, Halloween, and St Patrick’s Day. But did you know that there are many lesser-known holidays throughout the year as well? One or more of the following holidays may offer fun and unique ways for your family to form new traditions.

January 4: National Spaghetti Day – Spaghetti is a favorite for many families, since it’s delicious and quick and easy to make. On this day, your family can try something out of the box like having a spaghetti breakfast or trying new additions to your sauce.  You can even try making rainbow spaghetti. To do this, cook and drain spaghetti noodles and divide into bowls depending on how many colors you’d like to make. Add a drop of food coloring to each bowl and mix well, adding a bit of water if necessary. After five minutes, rinse under cold water.

February 9: National Pizza Day – It may be true that pizza is your child’s favorite food. If so, February 9 is their day to celebrate their love of pizza, either by making homemade pizza together or ordering delivery from your favorite restaurant. Having a family pizza party is an ideal way to celebrate this holiday while spending quality time together.

March 14: National Children’s Craft Day – On this day, your child’s imagination and creativity can run free, and so can yours. You can work on a single craft together as a family, or have your child choose what crafts to make. It can help your child develop their curiosity and confidence to decide on a craft project and what materials they’ll need to see their vision come to life.

April 23: National Picnic Day – Whether or not it’s actually picnic weather where you live, this is an ideal day to have a fun family meal. You can pack a traditional picnic lunch to eat outdoors, or bring the outdoors inside and spread out a picnic blanket on your living room floor. Encourage your children to help you pick out or prepare the food, and bring some picnic-friendly activities like board games or birdwatching.

May 15: Astronomy Day – Help your child learn about the stars and planets by reading books, visiting educational websites, and drawing pictures together. If the evening is clear, you can even take some binoculars outside and let your child discover the wonder of the stars firsthand.

June 21: National Daylight Appreciation Day – This is a great day to get outdoors and get some fresh air and sunlight with your family. Whether you go for a walk around the neighborhood, visit the beach, or spend some time in the garden, you and your family can create some memories together. As always, be sure to wear sunscreen and sun protective clothing so you get the benefits of daylight without the harmful UV rays of the sun.

July 12: National Simplicity Day – In our always-connected world, this day can be an ideal opportunity for your family to remember the simpler things in life. Some ideas for this day are: put devices away or turn them off all day, make no plans at all for the day, make a meal together entirely from scratch, take a long walk together, or spend the evening journaling or drawing together.

August 16: National Tell a Joke Day – This day is sure to be a fun one for every member of the family. Invent some jokes together or find some in a book or online, and see who can make everyone laugh the most.

September 6: National Read a Book Day – Reading books together as a family is a great way to bond and form some memories. Reading to your child is an ideal way to celebrate this holiday, but you can also take the opportunity to model a love of reading by designating quiet time for everyone to read separately while together.

October 21: National Apple Day – If you have an apple orchard near you, this is an ideal day for the family to visit and pick apples together. You can also spend this day baking and eating your family’s favorite apple-related treats.

November 13: National Kindness Day – This holiday is celebrated in several countries throughout the world. You can discuss kindness with your children, and find ways to show kindness to others all day long.

December 4: National Cookie Day – With the holiday season in full swing, National Cookie Day is a good time to get the whole family involved in baking cookies, whether to share with others, or to enjoy at home. Depending on the age of your child, they can get involved by helping to measure, pour, and mix ingredients.

4 Kids’ Books About Summer

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4 Kids' Books About Summer

Summer is a very active time for a child, rife with both indoor and outdoor opportunities for fun and learning. You can help your child look forward to summer as well as learn more about it with a good book. Here are 4 kids’ books about summer that you and your child can enjoy together.

I See Summer by Charles Ghigna
Ages 2-4

With colorful illustrations and simple, rhyming text, I See Summer provides many opportunities for you and your child to discuss the fun elements of summer.

And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner
Ages 4-8

This book’s vivid illustrations and lyrical text will help your child get excited for summer activities such as selling lemonade, eating ice cream, playing hide-and-seek, and Fourth of July parades.

The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing
Ages 4-8

This book follows a family as they get ready to leave for their big summer vacation the next morning. Whether or not you and your child are going on a trip in the near future, this book is a fun examination of all that goes into a summer vacation.

My Summer at Home: A Kids Journal to Write about Summer Adventures with Daily Writing Prompts

At home or on summer vacation, this journal is a fun way for older kids to make plans for their summer and think about their favorite things about the season. This can be a fun activity for the two of you to do together as well.

Educational Outdoor Activities for Toddlers

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Educational Outdoor Activities for Toddlers

Toddlers are naturally curious, and a warm day is ideal for helping your child learn while having fun. Here are 10 fun and educational outdoor activities for toddlers.

  1. Color scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt is a fun activity that will help toddlers practice their colors. You can have your child collect small outdoor items of certain colors, or simply take you to see them
  2. Nature walk. Your toddler can help you look for birds, squirrels, flowers, leaves, and other common items found in nature. Help your child identify each item and have a discussion about them.
  3. Nature sculpture.While on your nature walk, why not encourage your toddler to create a sculpture out of materials like twigs, acorns, and rocks? Encourage their creativity, but continue to teach them about being gentle and respectful of nature.
  4. Bug hunt. Looking for insects while out on a walk can be a fun activity. You and your child can observe the bug and form observations and questions about what the insects are doing.
  5. Sand art. A day at the beach can be an ideal time to encourage your child’s creativity – all you need is a stick and some sand. Your toddler can draw or practice letters and numbers.
  6. Sorting seashells. Collecting seashells is another fun beach activity that can actually help your toddler build foundational math skills in pattern recognition, pattern creation, shapes, and sizes.
  7. Water sensory bin. A simple sensory bin filled with water makes for a good outdoor activity on a warm day. You can fill the bin with different materials such as toy cars, blocks, sponges, and stones to see which ones sink and which ones float.
  8. Sidewalk chalk art. A classic outdoor toy, sidewalk chalk is an ideal way to encourage your toddler’s creativity and help them learn colors and shapes.
  9. Look through a magnifying glass. A simple magnifying glass can be engaging for a toddler, especially outdoors. Let your child’s curiosity guide them.
  10. Take art outdoors. If you have access to outdoor space, you can create an outdoor art environment for your toddler. One outdoor art idea is to tape an old bedsheet to the ground or a wall and let your toddler paint or color with washable marker.

What fun and educational outdoor activities for toddlers does your child enjoy?

What’s An Ideal Child Care Environment?

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What's An Ideal Child Care Environment?

There are many factors that go into picking the best child care environment for your infant, toddler, or preschooler. A good child care center should fit in well with your values and lifestyle.

The space of a good child care environment should be both thoughtful and inviting. The Reggio Emilia Philosophy believes that the environment in which your child explores is the third teacher.

There are many different preschools you can choose from, so looking for the following things can help you find the one that works best for your child and your family.

  • All areas of the child care center are clean and in good repair
  • Fire safety procedures and protocols are in place
  • The center’s furnishings, decorations, and layout encourage feelings of comfort and curiosity
  • Toys and other play equipment are age-appropriate and appealing to the children
  • Toys and equipment are regularly evaluated for safety
  • There are a variety of spaces designed for the children’s needs, such as reading or napping
  • There are many spaces for children to play together and separately
  • Outsiders are not allowed inside the daycare center unless screened by staff beforehand
  • Parents log their children in each day
  • All doors leading outdoors are securely locked and are unable to be opened by the children
  • The child care center is monitored utilizing closed-circuit cameras in all classrooms as well as hallways and outdoor spaces
  • Outdoor play areas are designed with age-appropriate materials, protective fences, and well-maintained grounds to ensure the children’s safety
  • Caregivers and educators encourage independent learning and investigation
  • A wide variety of subjects are available for children to explore, including music, dance, art, math, numbers, counting, and reading
  • Staff members are well-trained and encourage independence and curiosity
  • Children are guided based on their existing questions and interests
  • Materials in the classroom inspire children to think outside the box
  • During field trips, proper safety procedures are followed

How to Encourage Mindfulness in Children

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How to Encourage Mindfulness in Children

Many of us use mindfulness in our everyday lives to minimize anxiety, relieve stress, and get ourselves through difficult moments. However, children can benefit from learning mindfulness techniques as well.

According to Psychology Today, mindfulness and meditation have several benefits for children, including lowered social anxiety and stress, improved cognitive control and memory, improved attentiveness and impulse control, and learning how to stay calm.

How to encourage mindfulness in your child

As with anything your child learns, it’s most effective to start small, be patient, and take it slowly. There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, and it may take some experimentation to find the one that works best for your child.

Mindfulness activities for children

Try the following activities to help your child practice mindfulness:

  • Help your child focus on taking deep breaths by having them lie on their back with a favorite stuffed animal on their belly. As they breathe in and out, they can focus on the stuffed animal rising and falling with their breath.
  • Enjoy a nature walk in relative silence. Instead of talking or running, listen quietly to the sounds of birds, animals, water, and wind.
  • Ask your child to tell you what things they notice around them, and do the same in return. If possible, incorporate the five senses into this observation.
  • Take some time each day to share with each other what you’re most grateful for that day. For a young child it can be something as simple as playing with their best friend or getting to eat their favorite snack.
  • Encourage your child to write down or draw their feelings daily, without judgement.
  • Take a break to stretch with your child, and notice the sensations you feel with each different stretch.
  • Try a “Spider-Man Meditation,” designed to help children focus and tune in to their senses.
  • Model mindfulness. For example, let your child see you discussing your emotions calmly, or sitting quietly and taking deep, relaxing breaths.

Mindfulness is a skill that the entire family can practice together. It’s an ideal way to bond, create memories, and enjoy the benefits that it brings.

Gardening Ideas for Young Children

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Gardening Ideas for Young Children

The garden is an ideal place to help your young child learn more about nature and even where our food comes from. Here are some age-appropriate gardening ideas for young children.

  • Choose plants or vegetables with larger seeds that are easy for a young child to handle, such as sunflowers, sweet peas, and salad leaves. Have them be “in charge” of planting by dropping them into the soil for you.
  • Ask your child to help you when it’s time to harvest the veggies you’ve grown, or when you want to pick some flowers from your garden.
  • Provide your child with their own kid-sized watering can, and let them hep you water the plants according to their schedule.
  • If you don’t have room for an outdoor garden or just want to give your child a gardening project of their own, you can repurpose an egg carton, filling it with potting soil and putting a seed in each cup. You can cover the carton with plastic wrap to provide a greenhouse effect as well.
  • You can also repurpose a large plastic bottle to become a DIY greenhouse. With just a little setup by you, your child can have a gardening project that needs little maintenance.
  • Teach your child about the importance of compost and encourage them to help you fill your compost bin with materials such as dried leaves, vegetable scraps, and eggshells.

As always, ensure that your child is supervised at all times while gardening with you, and that fertilizers, pesticides, or any harmful gardening tools are kept well away. Teach your child to never put any seed, plant or berry in their mouth without asking you first.

Preparing Your Child for Summer Camp

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Preparing Your Child for Summer Camp

Summer camp is a fun way to teach your child new things while ensuring they get plenty of fresh air and physical activity. If your child is enrolled this year, here are some things you can do now to prepare your child for summer camp.

Discuss the summer camp experience

Be realistic about what your child can expect, and answer their questions honestly. If your child is nervous about the new experience, these discussions can help them prepare themselves and feel more in control.

Ensure all necessary forms are filled out

In order to be sure that your child will be safe, prepared, and well taken care of, the summer camp may have given you important forms. These can include emergency contact, pick-up authorization, food permission, and medical history. Filling these forms out as early as possible ensures there will be no delays if anything needs to be followed up on later.

Pack the necessary summer camp clothing or equipment

Your child’s summer camp will be able to tell you what your child needs to wear or bring to stay comfortable and protected. These items may include: proper summer attire, sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, sun hats, and rain gear. Some summer camp activities may require specific clothing or equipment, such as a bathing suit.

Be aware of policies and procedures

Because many children have special requirements such as food allergies or medication, your summer camp should have policies and procedures in place to address these needs. They’ll be happy to work with you to ensure your child is getting the care and attention they need.

Brush up on social skills

Whether or not your child will be attending summer camp with new children, it is an ideal time to practice social skills with them. You can practice things like saying please and thank you, sharing toys, giving others a chance to talk, and how to cope if they’re feeling upset or scared.

Educational Benefits of Play

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Educational Benefits of Play

Children love to play, and it’s an essential part of early education. Even in the simplest of games, children are learning critical life skills and educational concepts. Here are some of the educational benefits of play.

  • Develops math skills: Building with blocks, jigsaw puzzles, drawing, and coloring teach foundational math concepts such as patterns and shapes. Additionally, songs involving numbers and counting are a fun way for a child to learn math concepts.
  • Builds social skills: Play is an ideal way to learn social skills in an enjoyable and safe environment. When playing, children share ideas, express their feelings, recognize emotions in others, and negotiate problems. According to Psychology Today, “Play requires negotiation and agreement, so everyone’s needs are met.”
  • Encourages creative thinking: Creative thinking is about more than arts and crafts. According to recent studies, children who engaged in pretend play showed greater ability to solve divergent problems, as well think through “what if” scenarios.
  • Helps children practice real-life scenarios: A 2008 study suggests that children use play as a way to practice the sorts of life skills and scenarios that they will eventually do as adults. For example, when a child pretends to play “store” with friends, they are mimicking concepts such as purchasing items, running a business, and customer service.
  • Strengthens language skills: Recent studies have shown that “preschoolers use complex mental-state verbs such as say, talk, tell, write, and explain when they are engaged in make-believe play.” Playing with friends of varying ages is also an ideal way for a child to learn new words with the correct context.
  • Teaches emotional regulation: Play and make-believe are safe environments for children to work through their feelings, and investigate solutions to problems in a way they can control. It helps children to reduce stress and anxiety, and practice coping mechanisms. In particular, playing with parents helps a child feel safe and secure.

The educational benefits of play are numerous. While having fun with you or with friends, your child will learn critical life skills and educational concepts.

Spring-Themed Arts and Crafts

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Spring-Themed Arts and Crafts

The warmer weather and new life of spring are ideal ways to encourage your child’s creativity with arts and crafts. Here are some easy and kid-friendly spring-themed arts and crafts you can create together.

Painted flower or plant pots

All you’ll need for this project are clay pots, acrylic paints, and some brushes. Ensure the pots are clean and dry, and let your child decorate them with their favorite images of spring. These pots will make a perfect springtime addition to your garden.

Tissue paper mosaic flowers

Young children will have fun creating these colorful flowers with you. Draw flower shapes on construction paper and cut them out. Help your child cut or tear pieces of colorful tissue paper, and glue them onto the flower.

Rain painting

Children love expressing their creativity with painting, so why not use a typical springtime rainy day to add another dimension to their art? Using rain to transform materials such as food coloring, markers, and watercolor cakes will not only spark your child’s imagination, but they’ll have fun forming theories about how the changes take place.

Find some rain painting ideas here.

Outdoor Bug Hotel

From bees to butterflies to other insects, spring is an ideal time for children to learn more about the natural world. Using just some plastic bottles and outdoor materials such as twigs, leaves, and bark, you can create mini-habitats for insects. After the “bug hotel” is created, help your child observe the insects that they see, and ask questions together about what they do and why.

Learn how to make a Bug Hotel here.

These four spring-themed arts and crafts projects are an ideal way for you and your child to celebrate the season together.

How to Create Family Rules

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How to Create Family Rules

Children thrive on structure and predictability, and a set of family rules is an ideal way to give vital consistency and expectations. Here are some tips for creating family rules.

Get everyone on the same page

Family rules benefit children, but are good for the entire family as well. When everyone agrees on, understands, and follows the rules, everyone benefits from the consistency. Additionally, children won’t be confused or receive mixed messages about their behavior. Talk as a family about the sorts of rules that would help everyone, and agree on consequences if a rule isn’t followed.

Be clear and realistic

Toddlers and preschoolers may not understand everything as well as older children, so start small and be realistic. Clear and easy-to-understand rules benefit children of all ages, so try and find family rules that leave no room for confusion. For example, “No shouting” might make a younger child think they can’t shout while on the playground. Instead, a rule like “No shouting in the house” is more clear. Have your child explain the rule in their own words so you’re sure they understand.

Post rules in common family areas

Having the rules written out and posted in an area like the kitchen or the living room will ensure that everyone remembers. Many families customize these postings based on a child’s age and reading comprehension as well. For example, a toddler may not understand the rule “Clean up your toys,” but can understand a drawing of a tidy bedroom.

Enforce consequences

Family rules should be enforced immediately, no matter who breaks the rule. This will show your child that rules are to be respected by everyone, and it will model appropriate behavior for your child. Additionally, praising your child for following the rules will help them get used to them, and will give them a sense of achievement.

Helping Your Child Manage Anger

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Helping Your Child Manage Anger

Anger is a normal part of the range of human emotions. However, learning how to manage it is a skill, one that young children are unfamiliar with. For many children, it can be hard to tell the difference between anger and a similar emotion like frustration or fear. It can also be difficult to know how to manage these emotions.

Here are some ways you can help your child manage anger.

Teach your child about feelings

Adults know that being able to discuss their feelings is more productive and feels better than giving into an angry outburst. Children may struggle with this concept if they don’t know what the different feelings are, or how to talk about them. Sympathetically helping your child identify and label feelings while they’re feeling them is an ideal way to help them make the connection. For example, you can say, “It looks like you’re feeling a bit scared about going down the slide. Do you want to try the swings instead?”

Helping your child discuss their feelings is a critical component in helping them manage their anger. Help them see the difference between feelings and behavior, such as “It’s okay to be frustrated at your brother, but it’s not okay to throw his toy.”

Model appropriate anger management

Even if your child may not fully understand how to manage anger, they can understand how you do. It can be hard to remember this in the moment, but if you take a minute to breathe and discuss your feelings rather than losing your temper, your child will see that that is the appropriate way to behave. Also, if you remain calm during their own angry moments, they will feel safe and better able to calm down as well.

If you do accidentally model the sort of behavior you don’t want your child to see, be sure to apologize and talk about how you should have reacted instead.

Teach anger coping skills

When your child is feeling calm and relaxed, work together on a list of calming things they can do when they feel angry and frustrated. Here are some examples:

  • Sing and dance
  • Color or draw
  • Listen to their favorite music
  • Take five deep breaths
  • Walk away to a different room and jump up and down
  • Talk to Mom or Dad
  • Hug their favorite stuffed animal
  • Repeat a helpful phrase

When helping your child manage their anger, be sure that they know you are there to help them through it, even in the heat of the moment. This will help your child feel understood and supported, and more confident to work through their emotions.

3 Recipes You Can Make With Your Child

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3 Recipes You Can Make With Your Child

Having your child help you prepare food is very empowering. Not only does it teach them vital kitchen skills, but it helps them to develop self-confidence and a sense of responsibility.

Here are 3 recipes your child can help make, with your supervision.

English Muffin Pizzas

Kids of any age can have fun making English muffin pizzas, because most of the work is simple assembly. All you’ll have to do is chop any ingredients if necessary, and handle the cooking.

All you’ll need are English muffins, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and your child’s favorite pizza toppings. Split the English muffins open and have your child add the ingredients they like. Then, bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or a 350 degree toaster oven for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Pancake Poppers

This recipe is quick and easy. Depending on the age of your child, they can help with measuring ingredients, mixing, and dividing the batter into mini muffin cups.

Get the Pancake Poppers recipe here.

Kid-Friendly Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is an ideal recipe for children ages 5-8 who are still developing their skills in the kitchen. It’s a simple recipe that involves no chopping, but an adult will need to help once the dish goes into the oven.

Get the Kid-Friendly Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe here.

These child-friendly recipes are just three ways your child can help in the kitchen. It’s an ideal way to spend some quality time together, while helping your child learn vital kitchen skills.

Books to Help Your Child Learn About Sharing

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Books to Help Your Child Learn About Sharing

Sharing is an important life skill for a child to develop. Not only does it help your child learn empathy, but it also encourages teamwork and strong relationships.

Books are a great way to help your child understand the concept of sharing, why it’s beneficial, and how to share. Here are some books to help your child learn about sharing.

Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney
Ages 2-5

When a new neighbor comes to visit for a play date, Llama learns about sharing, and how to react when someone plays with a favorite toy. This book teaches children about sharing, and conflict resolution as well.

The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner
Ages 3-5

With a simple story and colorful illustrations featuring animals, this book helps children see the importance of sharing, and how it can lead to making some new friends.

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
Ages 3-5

This unique book features no words, and the story is told through colorful illustrations. Flora meets two peacocks who fight over her paper fan, but then work together to fix it. Because this story has no words, you and your child can work through what’s happening together.

Stone Soup
Ages 4-7

Stone Soup is a classic story demonstrating the value of sharing, and the wonderful things that can happen when people are generous and work together. There are many versions of this story available.

These are just four examples of books to help your child learn about sharing. When reading these books with your child, ask questions and have discussions to help your child understand why sharing is important, and the many ways they can practice it in daily life.

Helping Children Discuss Their Feelings

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Helping Children Discuss Their Feelings

The world of a young child is filled with many new experiences and discoveries, and many different emotions. Just like adults, it’s important for children to understand and express their feelings. Emotional awareness helps children navigate various relationships, problem-solve, feel empathy for others, develop resilience, and regulate their own emotions. However, many children lack the vocabulary to express how they feel.

Here are some tips to help children discuss their feelings.

  • Model emotional regulation and openness. For example, if something makes you upset, take a deep breath and say something like, “I feel upset because I lost my keys. But maybe I’ll ask your dad if he’s seen them.” When your child sees the way you express your emotions, they’ll pick up your cues and follow your lead.
  • Listen without judgment. If your child is feeling a negative emotion, your first instinct may be to reassure them. However, this can make your child feel like their feelings aren’t valid. No matter what your child is feeling, listen patiently and ask questions to help open a two-way conversation.
  • Show empathy. Empathy is a critical component in helping your child understand feelings. For example, you can say, “I can see that you’re sad about something. Do you want to talk about it?” You can also use books to help your child understand empathy, by asking things such as, “How do you think she felt when her cat ran away?”
  • Give emotions names. Children of all ages feel complex emotions, but may not know how to describe them. Learning the names of different emotions will help your child more confidently discuss them.
  • Praise and encourage. When you notice your child discussing their feelings in an appropriate way, offer specific praise and encouragement. This will reinforce the importance of healthy emotional expression.

Children who are able to discuss their feelings in a compassionate and safe environment are more likely to be empathetic and supportive of others, have healthy relationships, perform well in school and work, and have self-confidence.

Strategy Games for Young Children

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Strategy Games for Young Children

According to Scholastic, board games have many benefits for young children, including building skills in language, teamwork, focus, hand-eye coordination, and dexterity. In particular, strategy games help children learn about cause and effect, and planning ahead.

Here are some fun strategy games for young children that the whole family can enjoy as well.

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
Ages 3+

This color-matching strategy game is a fun way to help your child build fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and learn about animals as well. For 2-4 players, the whole family can enjoy this game.

My First Carcassone
Ages 4+

Carcassone is a popular strategy game for adults, and My First Carcassone is a kid-friendly version. Using illustrated tiles, players must build out the city of Carcassone as well as the outlying areas to figure out how to catch animals. Unlike the original version, there is no score and a shortened timeframe.

Qwirkle
Ages 6+

Qwirkle is a matching game featuring bright colors and shapes. Players place their tiles according to the tiles around them, and involves problem-solving and planning. The game is easy to learn, but challenging for all ages.

Connect 4
Ages 6+

Over the years, generations of children have learned basic strategy skills from Connect 4. Its two-person format encourages concentration and problem-solving as children consider the other player’s potential next move.

5 Healthy and Comforting Family Meals

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5 Healthy and Comforting Family Meals

Cooler winter weather is an ideal time for comforting family meals. Enjoy these comforting meals that are not only healthy, but suitable for the whole family.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

With this Instant Pot beef stew recipe, you can have a hearty winter dinner in less time than it would take to prepare it on the stove – and leftovers will make the next day’s dinner even easier.

Get the Instant Pot beef stew recipe here.

Pancit Bihon

This vermicelli noodle dish is a quick and comforting meal for everyone to enjoy. You can customize its ingredients based on what you have available, especially when it comes to the vegetables used.

Get the pancit bihon recipe here.

Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash

This version of shepherd’s pie uses cauliflower mash in place of mashed potatoes, and features frozen vegetables to cut down on prep time.

Get the shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash recipe here.

Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet

This one-pan meal is ready in thirty minutes. Serve it on its own, or with a side of additional vegetables or tortillas. You can also add other vegetables to the dish depending on your family’s tastes.

Get the ground turkey sweet potato skillet recipe here.

Chicken and Bean Burritos

Quick and easy to make, these burritos are flavorful and filling. Some additions include bell peppers, tomatoes, corn, or avocado.

Get the chicken and bean burritos recipe here.

These are just a few examples of family-friendly meals that are healthy as well as comforting for cold winter evenings.

How Early Reading Helps Children

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How Early Reading Helps Children

Reading is an important skill that has many significant benefits throughout a child’s life, and it’s never too early to help your child develop these benefits. Here are four reasons why early reading helps children.

Young children’s brains are developing rapidly

A child’s brain grows to 90% of its adult size by the age of five. In early childhood, more neural connections are made in the brain than any other time in a person’s life – at least one million per second. This means that early childhood is the best time for a child to develop foundational skills, such as literacy. The older a child gets, the more difficult it will be to learn. Similarly, if reading difficulties are not addressed until a child is older, they could be more likely to stick around later in life.

Reading is an ideal way to learn language skills

When reading a book with your young child, you are not only showing them how letters look and how they form words, but you are also demonstrating how these letters and words sound. Reading at an early age also helps your child to build their vocabulary and place these new words in appropriate contexts. Books are an ideal way for a child to expand their imagination as well as their vocabulary outside of what they may happen to pick up in daily life.

Books help children learn important lessons in an age-appropriate way

Many parents and caregivers want to find ways to discuss real-world situations with their young child in a way that won’t be confusing or overwhelming. Whether it’s a difficult topic or merely a complex one, there are likely many books available that teach these concepts in a relatable and age-appropriate way. What’s more, because many children’s books feature characters who are children themselves, they can help your child feel a deeper connection to the material.

Early literacy helps with future education

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who are introduced to reading early do better in school compared to those who aren’t. Additionally, over 1 in 3 American children starting Kindergarten lack the skills needed to learn how to read. If your child is introduced to reading before Kindergarten, they will be better equipped to learn – both then and later in life.

Whether your child is an infant or a preschooler, it’s never too early to introduce them to reading. Early literacy has several important benefits for children that will last them for their whole lives.

The Importance of Early Childhood Education

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The Importance of Early Childhood Education

The importance of early childhood education cannot be overstated. During this critical period, children learn the fundamental pillars that will allow them to be successful in their future education and work.

Here are some ways that research has shown the ways in which early childhood education is critical.

  • A child’s brain develops quickest in their earliest years, and quality education in this period can enhance development in many areas.
  • Early childhood education can translate into higher earnings in adulthood careers.
  • Trained and compassionate educators can help a child develop various aspects of their personality in caring, age-appropriate ways.
  • Educators are ideally suited to help identify and address any unique needs early on in a child’s life, and can help parents find resources.
  • Early childhood education can result in fewer behavioral problems later in life.
  • Additionally, children who receive early childhood education may be less likely to become involved in criminal activities as an adolescent and young adult.
  • Early childhood education can impart health and wellness benefits onto a child, including improved cardiovascular health, improved mental health, and higher immunization and screening.
  • Children can practice social skills in a controlled, low-risk environment. This allows them to develop empathy, problem-solving, self-expression, and accountability.
  • Pre-kindergarten education can benefit children with learning disabilities or physical disabilities.
  • An engaging and encouraging early childhood education program can make learning fun for children, creating lifelong positive associations with learning.
  • Early childhood education can help to counter the negative developmental effects that early life stress can have on a child.

The first five years of a child’s life are critical to their overall development. Their brains are developing at a rapid rate in this period, and research has shown that infants as young as three months begin to process complex thoughts. In a worldwide study of the industry, we concluded that through early childhood education we can have a positive impact on the future of our society.

Contact us today for more information about our innovative Reggio Emilia early childhood education programs.