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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.

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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.

Tips for Reading to Toddlers

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Tips for Reading to Toddlers

Parents and caregivers of toddlers know that they are very independent, and love to investigate their own ideas. While this curiosity is a wonderful way to help them learn, your toddler may not always have the best attention span for sitting down and reading a book together. Here are some tips for reading to toddlers.

  • Choose regular reading times. Young children thrive on routine, and knowing that they can expect their favorite story at bedtime, for example, will give your child important structure and something to look forward to.
  • Let your child pick the book. Even if you may get tired of reading the same book every night, allowing your child to choose the book will not further reinforce their love of reading.
  • Gauge your toddler’s interest level. Even with their favorite book, your child may not have the attention span to get to the end. Read as much as your toddler can handle, and don’t worry about sticking to the story.
  • Allow your toddler to move. Infants and older children may happily sit still for storytime, but toddlers love to move, dance, and sing. Incorporate this into your reading time, and have fun with it.
  • Ask questions while reading. Toddlers are endlessly curious, and asking questions about the story will engage their curiosity and develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
  • Read aloud in an engaging way. By using different voices for each character and modifying the level of your voice depending on what’s happening in the story, you can show your child that reading is fun and creative.
  • Choose toddler-friendly books. Depending on your toddler’s age, a paper book may be torn and pulled apart by curious hands, and a board book may be more appropriate. Choose the book that will be best for your child’s hands-on interests.
  • Have books readily available. Toddlers investigate their curiosity, so having books in several locations means that your child can pick one up and ask for a story wherever in the house they happen to be.

Books are perfect for a toddler’s curiosity and creativity. With these tips, you can help your toddler foster a lifelong love of reading.

Fun Ways to Teach Your Child About Money

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Fun Ways to Teach Your Child About Money

From an early age, children can learn about money and value. While it may seem like a difficult topic to help a young child understand, there are some fun ways your child can learn about money.

Play games involving imaginary money

Letting your child play games with imaginary money is a risk-free way to help them understand the concepts around it. Even children as young as toddlers can play games like “store” or “restaurant” in a simple way. For example, you can ask how much an ice cream cone costs, and hand over the appropriate amount of play money. For a toddler who may not yet be able to count out an amount of money, they can still get familiar with the concepts involved.

Investigate kid-friendly educational money games online

Websites such as Practical Money Skills offer age-appropriate games to help children learn about the concepts around money, spending, and value. These games are offered for children ages 3 to 8. Sit with your child while they play, and have discussions together about the concepts and images they see.

Put your child in charge

Older children who have a foundational grasp on numbers and addition can have fun being “in charge” of how much you’re spending at the grocery store. Give them a calculator and tell them the cost of each item you’re putting in the cart. You may also want to ask your child to help you choose between two similarly-priced items, or change your mind and ask your child to subtract the amount. They’ll not only practice their math skills and develop a sense of pride, but they’ll learn more about the value of everyday items.

Read books together

There are many books out there to help children learn about money, including:

With these entertaining and engaging ideas, your child will soon become more familiar with concepts of money and value.

15 Indoor Activity Ideas for an Only Child

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15 Indoor Activity Ideas for an Only Child

Many families with an only child, or an older child and an infant, wonder about ways they can help entertain their child indoors. During cold winter months or pandemic lockdown, here are 15 ways your child can pass the time.

  1. Hula hooping – builds coordination and balance
  2. Dancing – a great way for your child to express themselves and get some exercise
  3. Song and dance games – try songs that require corresponding actions, such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “I’m a Little Teapot”
  4. Arts & crafts – create something together, or let your child investigate their own idea
  5. Play pretend – get creative with items from around the house
  6. Performance – whether it’s a play or a concert, encourage your child to create something entertaining they can perform
  7. Indoor obstacle course – look for challenging yet safe ways for your child to jump, balance, crawl, and climb
  8. Learning something new – there are many child-focused educational videos online to help your child develop a new skill or learn more about their favorite interest
  9. Watch movies – get cozy and spend a day watching your child’s favorite movies
  10. Sensory play – creating a sensory bin at home requires mediums such as sand, water, and dried pasta; and materials such as buttons, scoops, and sponges.
  11. Video chat – set up a virtual play date with your child’s best friend, or have a video call with their grandparents
  12. Playing puzzles or games – there are many different puzzles and board games for every interest and age level, for the whole family or for your child to enjoy on their own
  13. I Spy – this fun game is ideal for spontaneous yet engaging entertainment
  14. Playing “basketball” – use rolled-up socks as the ball, and move the basket farther away after each successful shot
  15. At-home science projects – for example, help your child learn about buoyancy, volume, and mass by placing small objects like toy cars and coins into a bowl of water and observing what happens

Making Chores Fun for Children

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Making Chores Fun for Children

According to a study by Brown University School of Medicine, children who helped with household chores had higher persistence and increased levels of emotional wellbeing and happiness. Doing household chores helps your child learn responsibility, develop a sense of self-worth, and feel useful.

Here are some ways to help make chores fun for children.

  • Play together with your child’s stuffed animals as you both make the bed
  • Set a timer for ten minutes and see how much tidying you can get done
  • Put on your child’s favorite music and sing along as you clean
  • Play “basketball” using the hamper and dirty laundry
  • Create a cleaning-based scavenger hunt – instead of collecting certain items, your child should find them and put them where they belong
  • Make a colorful and visual chores list, and place a fun sticker on each child’s chore as they’re completed
  • Children can get bored easily, so change the chore list on a regular basis
  • Tell stories to each other as you clean, or ask about your child’s favorite books or movies
  • Encourage your child to sort clean clothing items by color
  • Play pretend while cleaning – for example, pretend that you are robots picking up toys and putting them away
  • Give your child ownership over a certain task that they are in charge of, such as putting away the cutlery, or arranging the shoes at the front door
  • Ask for your child’s advice and feedback as they do their chores, letting them think about other ways to do the task

When your child is starting out with household chores, start small, supervise, don’t expect perfection, and stay positive. With these tips, your child will feel more self-sufficient and develop a sense of pride.

Holiday Crafts for Preschoolers

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Holiday Season Crafts for Preschoolers

The holidays are here again, and it’s an ideal time to help your child express their creativity with crafts. Enjoy completing these holiday crafts together this year.

Paper Snowflakes

Creating paper snowflakes is a classic holiday craft, and it doesn’t require more than paper and scissors. If your child is not confident using safety scissors, they can decorate the paper and you can be in charge of cutting.

Find ideas for paper snowflakes here.

Pinecone Christmas Trees

This is a fun and creative holiday craft that will encourage your child to investigate nature as well. Take a walk and look for pinecones with your child, gathering the ones that they like best.

Find instructions for making pinecone Christmas trees here.

Handprint Christmas Tree

Needing only construction paper, scissors, and glue, a handprint Christmas tree is a fun way to get everyone involved, and makes an ideal family craft.

Find out how to make a handprint Christmas tree here.

Felt Dreidel Banner

This Hanukkah craft is great for children of different ages to do together. Older children can draw and cut out shapes, while younger children can glue the shapes together.

Get instructions for making a felt dreidel banner here.

How to Transition Your Nursery

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How to Transition Your Nursery

The move from baby to toddler can seem like a sudden one to many parents. There are a lot of big changes, including the need to transition your nursery to a toddler’s bedroom. Here are four tips to keep in mind when transitioning from a nursery to a bedroom.

1) Choose the right bed

Many parents decide that the time for a bed is when their toddler can easily climb out of their crib. Some cribs can be converted to a toddler bed by replacing a side rail with a lower safety rail. You can also purchase a bed designed for toddlers, which is lower to the ground and featuring built-in safety rails. Many families opt to go straight from crib to twin bed, which can be a less expensive option overall as your child can grow into it over the years. Investigate safety options for a twin bed if you are concerned about your child falling out.

2) Consider removing other furniture

The rocking chair and changing table that were fixtures of your child’s nursery may not be ideal in a room with a curious, climbing toddler. Instead, focus on giving your child room to explore and play. You may want to consider a cozy, easily-cleaned rug and small amounts of appropriately-sized, durable furniture. Keep your child’s favorite games and toys within easy reach.

3) Update the bedroom décor

Changing the décor in your toddler’s new bedroom doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and it’s a great way to help your child feel happy about the transition. You can change the paint color on the walls, decorate with stickers, or even ask your child to choose their own bedding.

4) Re-evaluate the new bedroom for safety

 You baby-proofed your child’s nursery, but now that it’s become a room for a toddler, double-checking everything is a good idea. Ensure that potentially hazardous items are out of reach, large items of furniture are secured to the wall, and install a safety gate if there are stairs nearby.

With these four tips for transitioning your nursery, your toddler will have a fun and safe environment to play and learn.

Moving? How to Help Your Child Adjust

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Moving? How to Help Your Child Adjust

Moving is an exciting and stressful time for everyone. If you’re moving soon, here are some ways you can help your child cope and handle the transition.

Before the move

  • Discuss the move with your child. Keeping your child informed is key in helping them adjust. Be honest and answer their questions as truthfully as possible. Younger children such as toddlers and preschoolers may need more help understanding the concept than older children, so consider using toys or books to help you explain.
  • Reassure your child that while things will be different, certain important things will remain the same, such as the daycare or school they go to, their favorite playground, their bed, or even simply that the family will be together as always.
  • Look for ways to give your child some small measures of control and ownership. These can include putting them in charge of packing their own books, or letting them choose the paint color for their new room.
  • Try using an art project as a way to help your child sort through their feelings. For example, they can paint a picture of your current home, or make a scrapbook of their favorite memories.
  • If your new home is vacant, take your child to visit, and let them explore and get to know their new neighborhood.
  • If possible, avoid other major changes around the time of the move such as toilet training.
  • Be patient with your child as they work through their emotions about moving. There may be setbacks and difficult days both before and after the move.

After the move

  • Unpack important and comforting items first, such as your child’s favorite toys, pictures, bedding, or books. These familiar objects will help make your new home feel more familiar to your child.
  • Maintain as regular a routine as possible, whether it’s the morning breakfast routine or the bedtime story routine. Consistent routines are highly beneficial to children, especially during otherwise unsettled times.
  • If your new home is farther away from your child’s friends, encourage them to keep in touch as often as possible, whether that’s regular video chats or weekly play dates.
  • Additionally, helping your child make friends in their new neighborhood or school can help them to feel less alone as well. Consider extracurricular activities or neighborhood family events.
  • Model positive behavior. While staying patient and respectful of your child’s feelings, let them see you keeping an open mind about the new house and new neighborhood, and bring them with you on walks or errands around town. If your child sees that you are feeling positive about the move, they will feel more confident about it as well.
  • Ask your child’s preschool teacher for assistance, whether or not they have changed schools. Their teacher can offer useful advice on how children can better handle a new move, and will know some local resources that may help.

Adjusting to a new move is difficult for a child, but with these tips, you can help to make the transition easier. See your pediatrician if things such as tantrums, trouble sleeping, or changes in appetite last longer than a few months, or are disruptive to your child’s daily life.

Grandparents and Babysitting

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Grandparents and Babysitting

According to a recent study, in households where a child’s grandparents do not live with them, nearly one in four children under five is regularly cared for by a grandparent. Having your child’s grandparent babysit them from time to time can be a wonderful way for them to bond and strengthen their own unique relationship.

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to grandparents and babysitting.

Ensure the grandparent is willing and able to look after your child

Sometimes, your child’s grandparent is happy to play with them all evening when they come over for dinner, but unable to maintain a full day of supervision, discipline, and activities. Whether it’s because of prior commitments or health concerns, there are some factors in a grandparent’s life that may require you to adjust your expectations. Discuss the possibility of child care with the grandparent, and see if there is an arrangement to be made that takes into account their own needs as well as yours.

Additionally, many grandparents who babysit their grandchildren resist the possibility of payment. If you would like to compensate the grandparent but they refuse money, think of respectful and creative ways you can thank them. For example, you might take them out for a nice meal, fix something in their home, or ask your child to create a special painting for them.

Get everyone on the same page

As a parent, you know that consistency is key when it comes to setting and enforcing rules for your child. However, you also know that your child’s grandparent may love to “spoil” them and let them do things they don’t get to do at home. To find a good compromise, figure out what your non-negotiable rules are, and ensure that these ones are also carried over to the grandparents’ house. For example, you may insist that your child goes to sleep at a certain time or isn’t allowed to jump on the bed, but you might decide that eating a little bit of candy while visiting their grandparents is okay.

Discuss your parenting philosophies

The way your child’s grandparents raised their own children is likely much different from your own way. While many aspects of these parenting styles may be the same, there are likely going to be differences. Sit down and have an open and non-judgemental discussion about your parenting philosophies, and explain why you do things in a certain way. It’s also a good idea to discover what the grandparent knows about developments in child safety and development over the years. For example, they may not know about back-sleeping as a way to reduce the risk of SIDS, or about toys that have now been found to be unsafe. Ensure that the grandparent’s home is safe for your child and that your child understands, in an age-appropriate way, what the rules are at their grandparents’ house.

Having your child’s grandparent babysit is an ideal way to strengthen the child-grandparent relationship. These tips can help ensure that the babysitting process runs smoothly.

Self-Care Tips for Parents

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Self-Care Tips for Parents

A parent’s top concern is looking after their children and making sure they feel loved, supported, and cared for. But when things get stressful, they may let their own needs fall to the wayside.

However, self-care for parents is vital. If your energy is low, you’re not eating well, or are overwhelmed, you may find it difficult to parent effectively. It’s important to look after your own wellbeing in order to be the good parent you want to be.

Here are some self-care tips for parents to try today:

  1. Meditate – Whether it’s five minutes in a quiet space focusing on breathing deeply, or 20 minutes using a guided meditation from an app, meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and decrease blood pressure.
  2. Focus on gratitude – According to studies, keeping a gratitude journal can improve your length and quality of sleep. Keeping a gratitude journal is as simple as writing down a few things you’re thankful for each day, before you go to sleep. They can be large or small.
  3. Enlist help – Nobody can do everything on their own, and you shouldn’t have to. Ask a member of your household to help you with a certain chore, or call a friend to talk about your feelings.
  4. Audit your diet – A healthy and well-rounded diet gives you energy to keep going, and nutrients to help you stay well. Life is busy, but look for quick and easy ways to incorporate fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats into your diet.
  5. Spend time outdoors – Even a walk around the block can have benefits on your wellbeing. Try to be as close to nature as possible for improve relaxation effects.
  6. Think small instead of big – Instead of worrying about the week’s laundry and the dirty dishes and the unanswered emails, pick one small thing to get done. Large tasks seem less impossible when they’re worked on bit by bit.
  7. Reduce social media usage – It’s easy to feel like we always have to be plugged in, but setting boundaries around your social media and device usage can help you feel calmer, as well as set a good example for your children about technology use. Try sleeping with your phone in another room, or institute a “no devices after dinner” rule.
  8. Plan to have no plans – Making time in your schedule to do nothing can be an ideal way to relax. Whether you read a book, call a friend to catch up, or have a movie night with your family, the lack of pressure to be productive can help you relax.

At-Home Halloween Ideas

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At-Home Halloween Ideas

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, many families are planning Halloween celebrations at home, rather than the traditional night of trick-or-treating. Here are some safer, at-home Halloween ideas for your family to try this year.

  • Decorate or carve pumpkins at home with members of your household, and display them outdoors for passersby to enjoy.
  • Create Halloween crafts together, such as Halloween Slime, Painted Monster Stones, and Paper Bats.
  • Decorate your home using the crafts you’ve made, as well as other Halloween-themed items, or items in Halloween colors.
  • Hold a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt, either at home, or go for a neighborhood walk to count jack-o-lanterns and decorations outside people’s homes.
  • Put a seasonal twist on classic games such as I Spy, charades, and bingo.
  • Have a virtual Halloween party with your child’s friends or family, where they can show off their costumes and play games.
  • Spend some quality time as a family watching Halloween movies everyone can enjoy.
  • Enjoy your child’s favorite snacks, or bake some yourself. Click here for a list of 33 easy Halloween cookies.
  • Create a Halloween sensory bin.
  • Read Halloween books together.

Halloween is a fun time for most children, and your child may be feeling disappointed that they can’t do things the usual way. Talk to your child and listen to their feelings, and assure them that this is only temporary. You may also opt to extend the celebrations for a day or two in order to help your child get more in the Halloween spirit.

Quick School-Night Dinners

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4 Meals You Can Make With Your Child

These days, families are under more pressure than ever to juggle careers, family, health concerns, and their personal wellbeing. With that in mind, here are some quick school-night dinners to help you save time while still providing a nutritious meal.

Breakfast for Dinner

Whether it’s scrambled eggs with mushrooms and toast, a vegetable quiche, or sweet potato pancakes, eating breakfast for dinner can be a fun novelty for a child – and easy for you.

To save yourself even more time during the week, try making mini quiche on a free day, and put them in the freezer for quick reheating at dinnertime. Get the Mini Quiche recipe here.

Chicken and Dumplings

Warm and comforting in cooler weather, chicken and dumplings is a one-pot meal. This recipe uses biscuit mix to save even more time. With just eight ingredients and very minimal prep work, you can have dinner ready in half an hour.

Chicken Vegetable Ramen

Instant ramen is a pantry staple for many people, but with a little bit of time and extra ingredients, it can be transformed into a complete meal. Try this recipe for Chicken Vegetable Ramen, which features added chicken and lots of veggies.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

These Mexican Stuffed Peppers are customizable, can be prepared ahead of time, and take just 30 minutes to make. Your child can also help you fill the peppers, making mealtime fun as well.

Ideas to Teach Your Child About Space

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Ideas to Teach Your Child About Space

Children have big imaginations, and nothing seems to spark that imagination more than outer space. With so many possibilities, children love to imagine what could be out there, and love to learn about the things we already know about space.

Here are some fun ways to teach your child about space.

Read books about outer space

There are many books available to help your child learn more about space. Here are some popular examples:

Hello, World! Solar System – Ages 3 months-3 years
Peppa in Space – Ages 3-5 years
There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library) – Ages 4-8
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space – Ages 4-8
Astronomy for Kids: How to Explore Outer Space with Binoculars, a Telescope, or Just Your Eyes! – Ages 7-13

Have fun reading these books together, and discussing what you see on the pages.

Make arts and crafts projects about space

Children learn through hands-on experiences, so these arts and crafts projects can be an ideal way to help your child get more familiar with outer space and space travel.

  • Draw an alien – What funny and strange creatures would live on your child’s very own planet? Have your child draw, paint, or color their very own aliens.
  • Space-themed sensory bin – A sensory bin is a great way for children to have some hands-on fun while learning about space. Indulge their creativity by including beans, sand, colorful water beads, plastic planet or astronaut toys, metallic stars, and crumpled tinfoil.
  • Create their own rocketship – Together, you and your child can create your very own rocketships. You’ll need some common crafting supplies such as scissors, glue, child-safe paint, and markers, and you can supplement this activity with other items such as aluminum foil and tissue paper. You can even create a spaceship out of a small shoe box or toilet paper roll.
  • Planet Sun CatchersWhether it’s one of the planets in our solar system or a brand-new one from your child’s imagination, this Planet Sun Catcher craft is an ideal way to learn about planets.
  • Homemade Sun Dial – This is an engaging way to help your child learn more about our sun and the rotation of the earth. Learn how to make a Homemade Sun Dial here.

Talk to your child’s teacher for more ideas

Your child’s preschool or daycare teacher most likely already has some fun and educational ideas for your child to learn more about space. They can be a great resource to help you supplement your child’s learning at home.

Helping Your Child Build Healthy Relationships

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Helping Your Child Build Healthy Relationships

Learning how to build healthy relationships is an important life skill for children to have. Not only does it develop empathy, confidence, and moral reasoning, but it helps to set a good foundation for relationships later in life.

Here are some ways you can help your child build healthy relationships.

Set – and enforce – boundaries

Parents of young children know that they are always testing the limits of rules and boundaries. While it can seem harmless to give in now and then, too much of this can confuse a child and inadvertently teach them that boundaries can be ignored. Practice enforcing rules at home in small ways. For example, if there is a “no TV after dinner” rule and your child asks to watch a cartoon before bed, say no and stand firm. Or, if you are trying to teach your young child to stop hitting, don’t respond with a laugh if your child smacks you while playing. Standing firm with boundaries and rules helps your child to understand them.

Respect your child’s own boundaries

Young children are still figuring out what it means to be their own person. It’s important to respect the boundaries they set for themselves, even if they’re small. For example, if your youngest child hates being tickled, ensure that your older child doesn’t tickle them, even if it’s done playfully. This will demonstrate respect and empathy for your child, and show them that they are allowed to say how they want to be treated.

Establish healthy communication

Strong relationships are built on good communication, and these lessons can be taught early. Model healthy and respectful communication and encourage your child to do the same – especially in times of conflict. Let them see that talking about their feelings honestly and respectfully yields a better result than anger. For example, you can say, “I feel very tired today and I have a headache. Why don’t we read a book together instead of singing and playing music?”

Teach empathy

Not only is empathy key in a healthy relationship, it is also key in conflict resolution, gratitude, and ethical behavior. There are many ways you can teach your child empathy, including helping your child find common ground with a variety of people, reading books about empathy, and modeling empathetic behavior at home.

Ensure your child sees healthy relationships in action

Children learn a great deal by observing the world around them, and being exposed to healthy relationships in their everyday life can help them to internalize the things that make them good. As often as you can, make sure they see your own healthy relationships, and point out examples of good relationships that you see in books, cartoons, or on TV.

Managing Childhood Fears

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Managing Childhood Fears

Whether it was thunderstorms, monsters under the bed, or a certain type of bug, we can all remember childhood fears we had. If your child is afraid of something not normally considered dangerous, you can help them manage their fears. According to the Child Mind Institute, teaching your child coping strategies will build confidence and independence, and will help them to feel less afraid. Here are some tips for managing childhood fears.

Identifying the fear

Depending on your child’s age, it may be more difficult to pinpoint their fear. You may need to look for non-verbal cues that your child is afraid, such as crying, tantrums, jitters, racing heartbeat, dizziness, or sweating. These reactions will often persist despite reassurance from you that there is nothing to be afraid of. They can also disrupt their everyday routine – for example, a child who’s afraid of the dark may have trouble sleeping.

Encourage openness

When discussing your child’s fear, encourage them to be honest, and listen without judgement. Knowing that they can talk to you about their fear can go a long way in feeling secure enough to cope with it.

Validate their feelings

While you don’t want to tell your child they’re right to be afraid of thunder or bugs, it’s important that they know their feelings are important. Many childhood fears can seem almost amusing to adults. However, for a child, it’s very real. You can say something like, “I can see how that’s scary for you,” or “I was afraid of the dark too when I was your age.” However, avoid over-comforting your child, as this can reinforce their fear.

Ask questions

You can help understand your child’s fear by asking specific questions. For example, “Does the monster in your closet go away if a light is turned on?” or “What makes going to the dentist scary?” Understanding your child’s fear can help you figure out how to cope with it.

Help your child practice coping strategies

Once you and your child understand the fear, you can help them cope with it and practice conquering it. Take small steps. For example, if your child is afraid of taking a bath, one day they can sit in a small amount of water, and the next time a little more. Or they can practice getting used to the water by having you pour a little bit on their hands and then on their back.

You can also help your child role-play situations that make them fearful. For example, talking to other children at school. This is a low-stakes way for you and your child to figure out what they can do to cope, and practicing those things can increase their confidence.

Above all, when helping your child manage their fears, be patient and understanding, and offer lots of praise for their efforts.

How Music Helps Children Learn

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How Music Helps Children Learn

Parents and caregivers know that children love music, whether it’s listening to it, singing and dancing along, or even making music themselves. Music is fun for children, but also plays an important role in learning. Here are some ways that research has shown how music helps children learn.

Helps in language development

Recent studies have shown that music develops the same area of the brain that’s associated with language processing. This can be why children’s songs that are also educational, such as the alphabet song, assist in helping children retain the information. Learning language involves understanding patterns of sounds and words, and music involves a similar process.

Increases spatial intelligence

Music can help children develop spatial intelligence, allowing them to better visualize the various steps and elements of a problem. This skill is a factor in learning such things as math, art, engineering, and computers.

Encourages greater working memory

Working memory helps children retain and sort information, and is used in reasoning and problem-solving. Studies have shown that musicians have better selective focus and can recall tasks easier than non-musicians.

Encourages creativity

Music is a highly creative area, and children who are exposed to music can develop their own creative thinking. Research suggests that this creativity can be extended into other areas such as problem-solving and critical thinking.

Enables learning in other areas

Music is engaging and compelling to children, and they have positive associations with it. Bringing music and its positive associations into other topics such as math or science can increase a child’s information retention and attitude about what they’re learning.

Whether your child is enrolled in official music lessons or just enjoys making up their own songs at home, offering greater exposure to music can help your child learn in a number of ways.

Helping Your Child Learn to Write

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Helping Your Child Learn to Write

Young children can have a difficult time learning how to write. From fine motor skills to remembering shapes, there are many things that your child has to contend with. Here are some tips to help your child learn to write.

Provide the proper materials

Ensuring your child has proper, age-appropriate materials will set them up for success with writing. For example, young children may need smaller pencils than older children, and some children like to have rubber pencil grips to help keep it from slipping. Ensure they have lots of paper as well.

Make writing fun

Your child may practice writing with greater enthusiasm if it’s a project they are excited about. You can make a game out of writing practice in a few ways, including spraying shaving cream on a baking tray and having your child write their name with a finger, or practicing their letters in the sand on a beach, using a stick.

Involve your child in your own writing

If you’re writing out the week’s grocery list or adding an item to the family’s message board, ask your older child to help you. You can encourage them to try on their own, or write out an example for them to follow.

Ask your child’s preschool teacher for help

A good preschool will make writing practice a regular occurrence. For this reason, your child’s preschool teacher is a great resource to help you extend the learning at home. Not only do they have experience, but they may also be able to give you tips specific to your child.

Develop your child’s fine motor skills

Fine motor skills are involved in many stages of the writing process, such as holding a pencil and hand-eye coordination. You can help your child develop their fine motor skills with small intricate actions, such as stringing beads and stacking blocks.

Be patient and supportive

Writing is a skill that a child develops over many years. Be patient and let your child figure out the way letters are formed on their own. You can offer guidance such as writing out letters for your child to trace, but providing time, space, and encouragement will help them improve.

Ideas for Outdoor Learning

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Ideas for Outdoor Learning

With the warmer weather, taking learning outdoors is a great way to help make it fun and interesting for your child. Here are 7 ideas for outdoor learning you can try with your child this summer.

  • Birdwatching: Depending on the age of your child, you can either simply point out different birds you see together, or create a checklist of common birds in your area that your child can look for. To make it more fun, you can create “binoculars” out of toilet paper or paper towel rolls and string.
  • Outdoor scavenger hunt: A scavenger hunt of common outdoor items can help your child learn to classify and sort objects. You can choose items by color, texture, size, or shape.
  • Skipping stones: Older children can have fun and learn some scientific principles by skipping stones. By trial and error, your child can figure out which size and shape of stone works best. Does weight play a part? What throwing angle works best?
  • Making rain a sensory experience: A rainy day doesn’t have to mean outdoor learning stops. You can go outside and encourage your child to use their senses to learn. How does the rain feel on their hands? How does it sound hitting different surfaces? How does it change the soil in your yard? How quickly can it fill up a cup?
  • Rescuing earthworms: After the rain stops, children can learn about nature and develop empathy by looking for worms on the sidewalk, and transporting them to the grass or soil. Your child may want to investigate the worm, but remind them that worms need the moisture in the soil to help them breathe, and it can be dangerous to hold them for too long.
  • Creating a sculpture: With sticks, rocks, and leaves in abundance, the great outdoors can hold endless possibilities for your child to create a sculpture. Encourage their creativity, but continue to teach them about being gentle and respectful of nature.
  • Practicing letters and numbers: Sticks and rocks can also be a great way to help your older child practice their spelling or their numbers. This is also an ideal activity to do on a beach, having your child use a stick to draw numbers, or spell a word or a phrase in the sand. 

As always, ensure your entire family practices safe sun exposure when enjoying outdoor learning with your child.

Encouraging Children to Try New Things

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Encouraging Children to Try New Things

Parents of young children are probably familiar with their child’s hesitation to try something new. Whether it’s a new food, talking to a new person, or trying a new way of doing something, children can resist without you understanding why. However, as an adult you know that new experiences not only lead to a richer life, but they also teach valuable skills.

Here are some ways you can encourage your child to try new things.

Discuss the issue with your child

Sometimes your child might seem to refuse something with seemingly no reason why. However, through conversation, you might be able to uncover why they’re hesitant. In these situations, keep the conversation calm and uncritical, and acknowledge your child’s feelings. Avoid comparison or inadvertently causing guilt. You may be able to offer suggestions for overcoming their fear or hesitation, but the most important thing is that your child feels heard and understood.

Make a plan with your child

Helping your child come up with a plan for the new experience gives them a sense of control, which can help them feel more confident about trying something new. Once you and your child have identified the reason for not wanting to try the new thing, you can guide them in coming up with a plan. For example, if your child is reluctant to take swimming lessons, you can figure out some small steps that they can do to help them be more comfortable with the idea. They can practice getting their face wet in the bath, or they can get used to being in the water by splashing in the shallow end of a pool with you.

Help to develop their confidence and security

Sometimes, a child doesn’t want to try something new because they’re anxious about failing, or they worry about what people will think if they can’t do it. Whether you’re talking about the specific situation they’re hesitant about or not, ensure that your child knows that you’re always there to love and support them no matter what. Notice and acknowledge when your child does something challenging, and praise the effort, no matter the outcome.

Let your child see you trying new things

If your child sees you trying something new, they’ll feel encouraged to do the same. Whether it’s trying a new food or saying hi to a neighbor, try to model curiosity and a willingness to try new things. For this reason, it can also be helpful for your child if you “fail.” For example, if you try a new food and dislike it, rather than making a face and pushing your plate away, you can be honest and say you didn’t like it very much, but you’re glad you tried it. This way, your child can see that the experience and what you learn is valuable, and they may be more willing to take a risk on a new thing.

Above all, when it comes to encouraging your child to try new things, be patient, compassionate, and don’t force them before they’re ready. With these tips, your child can develop confidence and an open mind, and they may be more likely to try something new.

How Families Can Get Involved in Preschool

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How Families Can Get Involved in Preschool

According to Diane Levin, Ph.D., of Wheelock College, a positive preschool-parent relationship “demonstrates to your child that he can trust his teacher, because you do.” Also, research shows that parents who get involved in daycare end up helping their child both academically and socially.

By observing the interactions between you and their preschool, your child learn important life skills such as compromise, reasoning, respect for others’ opinions, and a sense of community. With a consistent home and preschool relationship, your child will feel more secure, and can learn about their world more confidently.

Here are some ideas for showing support and getting more involved with your child’s preschool.

Join a parent committee

Many preschools encourage active parent involvement with committees. For example, KLA Schools’ PAK (Parent’s Association of KLA) consists of volunteer parents who collaborate with our staff to create and organize special events, fundraisers, and other school functions that may take place throughout the school year.

Parents may join a committee to help plan events, organize field trips, assist with fundraising, and more. Your child’s preschool may need help on a case-by-case or ongoing basis.

Participate in community outreach and events

If your child’s preschool holds volunteer or community service events, it can be an ideal time to get involved. By joining your child’s preschool in these endeavors, your child will gain a sense of community pride and belonging, as well as learning empathy.

Attend a parents’ night

A good preschool will welcome parental involvement and get to know the parents of each student. Ask if your child’s preschool has social events for parents and families such as assemblies or picnics. Some schools also encourage parents to drop in to tell a story, play, or just to say hi.

Check in with your child’s teachers regularly

Stable, quality relationships during a child’s early years are fundamental for developmental outcomes later in life. To this end, a good preschool will collaborate with you in your child’s education, offering support and strategies that you can continue to use at home. In addition to any regular reports you get about your child, turn to your child’s preschool teachers for their input on any number of things from fun and healthy snack ideas to the latest news in early childhood education. Regular discussions are an ideal way to stay involved with your child’s teachers and the preschool in general.

Strong involvement in your child’s preschool can help you ensure your child is developing and thriving. Collaboration between teachers, parents and the children is an integral part of the educational experience at KLA Schools. Contact your local school today to learn more about PAK, or to join.