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

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

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

Easy Recipes to Make With Your Child

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Easy Recipes to Make With Your Child

Cooking with your child is not only an ideal opportunity to spend some quality time together, but it also helps them build confidence, motor skills, and even math skills.

Here are some easy, delicious, and family-friendly recipes you and your child can make together.

Mini Chicken Parm Sandwiches

Kids love chicken strips, and frozen chicken strips can form the basis of a quick and delicious meal. After baking the chicken strips, your child can help you assemble the sandwiches in dinner rolls, adding marinara sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan. Then, broil in the oven until the cheese is melted. To make this a complete meal, serve with your child’s favorite sliced vegetables on the side.

Omelettes

A classic weekend breakfast, omelettes call for a few simple ingredients that your child can help you mix. They can also choose their favorite fillings such as mushrooms, cheese, onions, spinach, tomatoes, or sausage. Omelettes are also an ideal recipe for older children to try cooking on their own with your supervision.

Build Your Own Quesadillas

Quesadillas are a favorite with children. They’re also endlessly customizable, so picky eaters can choose their favorite toppings. You can also choose your family’s favorite proteins and vegetables. Depending on the age of your child, they can help you by assembling the quesadillas before baking, or chopping the vegetables.

Get the quesadilla recipe here.

Baked Parmesan Zucchini

Often, getting children to enjoy eating vegetables is as simple as adding a bit of cheese. This baked parmesan zucchini makes a quick and delicious side dish that will help your child get more veggies. After you slice the zucchini into sticks, your child can help by combining the parmesan and spices in a bowl, and then sprinkle the mixture onto the zucchini before baking.

Get the Baked Parmesan Zucchini recipe here.

Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

This quick meal uses frozen meatballs and veggies for extra convenience when you are short on time. Your child can help you by measuring the ingredients, and older children can cook the noodles and vegetables.

Get the Teriyaki Meatball Bowls recipe here.

With these five recipes, you can help teach your child valuable skills in the kitchen while giving them a sense of independence and confidence. Best of all, these recipes are all fast and delicious.

Summer Camp Checklist

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Summer Camp Checklist

Summer camp is an ideal opportunity for your child to learn more about their world and enjoy the great outdoors. To help your child prepare for summer camp, here are some important items your child may need to bring along.

What to bring to summer camp

  • Proper summer clothing that’s also comfortable and easy to clean
  • Extra underwear
  • Extra socks
  • Sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher
  • Child-safe insect repellent
  • Sun accessories such as sunglasses and a hat with a brim
  • Footwear such as sneakers or sturdy sandals
  • Rain gear
  • Swimwear and goggles, if applicable
  • Tissues
  • Any necessary medication, in its original container with dosage instructions
  • A small knapsack

If your child is attending an overnight camp, you will also want to pack bedding, towels, and toiletry items such as a toothbrush, toothbrush container, toothpaste, and a toiletry bag.

What not to bring to summer camp

  • Valuable items such as electronics
  • Breakable items
  • Items that your child considers irreplaceable, such as a favorite stuffed animal
  • Cell phones
  • Clothing that is impractical, uncomfortable, or difficult to clean

Tips for packing for summer camp

Our summer camp checklist is a basic guideline, featuring the most common items a child may need to bring along. However, it is a good idea to ask your child’s summer camp as well; they will likely have a list of essential items that they can give you. They may also provide items such as insect repellent, antibiotic ointment, and sunscreen.

Because summer temperatures can vary throughout the day, you may want to dress your child in layers. If the day gets warm, they can remove the outer layers and store them in their knapsack for a later time.

You may want to also send along an extra pair of shoes, depending on the outdoor activities your child will be experiencing during summer camp.

It’s a good idea to write out a list of everything you’re sending to summer camp with your child and give it to a staff member when you drop your child off. If your child is bringing medication along, you may need to give it to the camp staff along with the dosage instructions.

When packing for summer camp, be sure to give yourself enough time, and have your child help you. Packing for summer camp together is an ideal way for you and your child to bond while helping them feel a sense of ownership over the experience.

Summer camp is an exciting way for your child to learn new skills and discover the world around them.  With this summer camp checklist, you can be sure your child will have all the important things that they need.

For more about summer camp, read about the fun and educational activities children experience at KLA Schools Summer Camp.

How to Give Preschoolers More Independence

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How to Give Preschoolers More Independence

Independence is a very important skill for children to develop. An independent child has greater self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and a sense of belonging. Preschoolers are naturally interested in developing their independence, and there are many ways you can help them do so while keeping them safe.

Here are some ways to give your preschooler more independence.

Continue to demonstrate respect to your child

Your preschooler wants to try new things and express their thoughts and feelings. Letting them know that you respect these initiatives will give them the confidence to continue, and show them that being more independent isn’t scary or bad. For example, ask them to pick out their outfit for the day – even if they choose mismatched socks or a superhero cape. Ask them if they want help with a task instead of automatically doing it for them. Showing them that their thoughts and actions do have merit, even if you disagree, will give them confidence.

Allow your child to be bored

Many families are busy, with appointments, errands, classes, and games. This structure is important to a preschooler’s life. However, it’s also important to create spaces in your daily schedule where children have the opportunity to entertain themselves. Children are naturally creative, and you may be pleasantly surprised what they choose to do with their time when they’re left to their own devices.

Start slowly if necessary

It can be difficult for parents to reduce or stop a parenting behavior they have been used to. If you want to help your child become more independent, it may be easier for both of you to start slowly. It might not be realistic for your family for your preschooler to load the dishwasher, but they can help set the table using items you give to them. Another small step you can take towards preschooler independence is sitting at the playground and watching them as they play, rather than following them. When taking these steps to independence, continually reassess whether your child can be doing certain things on their own. As your child builds skills, they may be able to do more things independently.

Provide a safe space for experimentation

All parents have the urge to protect their children, and prevent them from harm and injury. However, part of independence is failing, and then trying again. Look for ways you can help your child explore and experiment that are also reasonably safe. For example, supervise your child on the playground to ensure they’re staying within safe limits, but let them climb and swing if they’re physically able to. Or praise them for their effort in tying their shoes, and ask them if they want to try again. Allowing your child to experiment within safe parameters gives them the security they need while teaching them valuable skills.

Independence and self-reliance are critical skills that will stay with your child for the rest of their life. There are many ways you can help your preschooler build their independence for greater confidence, self-esteem, motivation, and a sense of belonging.

Encouraging Young Children to Cooperate With Others

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Encouraging Young Children to Cooperate With Others

The ability to cooperate with others is a skill that your child will carry with them through to adulthood. No matter what the age, being able to work together with another person or in a group will have benefits in relationships, school, and work. Parents of toddlers and preschoolers know that their child is at an age where they are building their independence, and it may seem like cooperation doesn’t come easily. However, teaching your child to cooperate is possible.

Here are some ways you can help encourage your young child to cooperate with others.

Model cooperative behavior

As a parent, you are your child’s main source of knowledge of the world around them. Take every opportunity to demonstrate not only how to cooperate, but the benefits that come from cooperation. For example, you can let your child see you sharing something with a family member, or working together to solve a minor problem.

Point out the benefits of cooperation

Whether you engineer a problem-solving situation or notice it happening organically, be sure to point out the benefits of working together. For example, you can say, “Thank you for helping me find the remote control. It was easier when we did it together,” or “It was very helpful of you and your brother to put your shoes away on your own. Now the floor is safer because nobody will trip.” Not only will this help your child understand why cooperation is important, but it will encourage them to keep trying.

Play cooperative games

Children learn through play, and family-friendly games can be an ideal way to help your child learn how to cooperate in a fun environment. Amazon has a list of top-rated cooperative board games for children to help spark some ideas. You can also play hide-and-seek in teams, do a puzzle together, and create a structure with building blocks together. Because toddlers and preschoolers have a more difficult time understanding competition than older children, cooperative games like these put the focus on working together to accomplish the same goal.

Get your child involved in chores

Children who help out around the house see greater persistence and higher levels of emotional wellbeing and happiness. But household chores can also be an ideal way to demonstrate the importance of working together. By helping with tasks such as setting the table, tidying the living room, or feeding the family pet, your toddler or preschooler will learn that all members of the household cooperate in its management. Here are some ideas for age-appropriate household chores for young children.

Talk to your child’s preschool teacher

Because they have daily experience with children playing and working together, your child’s preschool teacher can be a very helpful resource in encouraging cooperation. Whether it’s ideas for ways to promote teamwork at home or in a group with other children, your child’s teacher can suggest ideas specific to your child’s personality and interests.

Toddlers and preschoolers are developing their independence, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also learn how to work together. With our tips for encouraging your young child to cooperate, you can help make the process fun.

Making Everyday Errands Educational

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Making Everyday Errands Educational

When running errands with your child, you may wonder how you can keep them entertained and calm. In addition to starting with a positive mindset and going at the right time, you can also turn daily errands into a fun learning experience for your child. Here are some ways you can help make everyday errands educational for your child.

Play games like I Spy

While traveling to your destination or waiting in line, you can play fun games with your child that will keep them distracted while also helping them learn. For example, you can play I Spy and help your child learn their colors. Depending on the age of your child, you can make the game more challenging by adding characteristics, like “I spy something blue and tall with something green inside.” In a similar way, you can help your child build their counting skills by asking them how many of a certain thing they see, such as cars, dogs, or trees.

Get your child involved

If you’re going shopping, it can be an ideal time to help your child build math and problem-solving skills. You can ask them to help you choose a certain number of apples, or ask them to pick a potato that’s lighter than another. In a mall or shopping center, you can ask your child to help you find the next store by describing it. For example, “Can you help me find the post office? It’ll have a big green bench in front of it.”

Give them a tool

Older children aren’t immune to boredom on errands, and this can be alleviated by giving them a tool to help them feel empowered. For example, you can give your child a calculator while in the grocery store, and have them be in charge of adding up how much everything costs. To help your child understand distance and direction, you can create a map of the route you’ll be taking from location to location, for your to child to follow.

Read aloud

The world is full of interesting ways for children to develop their reading skills. Depending on the age of your child, you can use errands as an opportunity to read together. With young children, you can point out simple items such as stop signs and store names, and help them read the words. Older children can help you by finding prices and reading package descriptions.

Children love to feel involved in and help with everyday tasks. With these four tips, you can help make your daily errands into a learning experience for your child.

Springtime Sensory Play Ideas

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Springtime Sensory Play Ideas

Children use their senses to gather information about their world, and to figure out answers to questions. Because children learn through hands-on experiences, a sensory table is an ideal way to help them celebrate and understand the arrival of spring and all it entails.

Setting up your springtime sensory play area can be done indoors or outdoors, either in a dedicated sensory table with small built-in bins, or any small tubs and bins you have at home. Sensory play may get messy, so ensure that you account for spills or splashes when setting up your child’s play area. As always, make sure that all sensory bin items do not pose a choking hazard.

Fill your sensory table or bins with materials to scoop, pour, and mix, and mediums to form the basis of the sensory play. Here are four springtime sensory play ideas for your toddler or preschooler.

Sensory spring garden

Using soil as the medium, add toy garden tools such as spades, rakes, and buckets. Include colorful flowers, and an assortment of toy vegetables. Your child can rake and scoop the soil, plant the flowers, and dig up the vegetables. Together, you can discuss how plants grow each spring.

Sensory spring creatures bin

Spring means the return of birds and the emergence of familiar creatures such as insects, worms, and frogs. To help your child get to know the creatures of spring, create a sensory bin with toy versions of frogs, worms, insects, and birds. Your medium could be sand, soil, or beads. Your child can bury the insects and worms and dig them up, use a magnifying glass to examine the creatures, scoop and pour them into small containers, count them, or play make-believe with them.

Sensory spring water table

Spring means rain, and using water as a medium is an ideal way to help your child experience this key feature of the season. Children love playing in puddles, so create a bin-sized puddle full of leaves, flowers, beads, plastic frogs and fish, and other materials. They can splash around and explore the different textures of the materials, and learn about how some float and others sink. To further emulate spring rain, you can poke holes in the bottoms of plastic cups, or give your child sponges to squeeze “rain” out of.

Easter sensory table

Easter is a colorful hallmark of the season, and an ideal opportunity to create a bright and fun sensory table for your young child. Fill your bin with Easter basket grass, cotton balls, plastic or wooden Easter eggs, toy chicks or rabbits, and cut-up egg cartons. With a multitude of textures, shapes, sizes, and weights, this Easter sensory bin will give your child ample opportunity to learn even more about Easter.

Sensory tables are an ideal way to help your child develop fine motor skills, build cognitive skills, socialize with others, and encourage their creativity. These four sensory play ideas will help your child learn more about spring while building important skills.

The Benefits of a Reggio Emilia Preschool

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The Benefits of a Reggio Emilia Preschool

When looking for the best preschool for your child, you may encounter several different educational philosophies. The Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education is one such philosophy, and one with a multitude of benefits for your child.

What is the Reggio Emilia educational approach?

The Reggio Emilia Approach takes its name from its place of origin, Reggio Emilia, in Northern Italy. Shortly after World War II, local families collaborated with Loris Malaguzzi, a lifelong educator, innovator and creative philosopher, to find a unique public system of early childhood education.

Loris Malaguzzi and the parents of Reggio Emilia, Italy were devastated by the destruction of the war, and believed that the approach to education had to fundamentally change. Based on principles of respect, responsibility and community, a new educational philosophy was born.

In the Reggio Emilia Approach, there is an expression, “A child has a hundred languages.” The approach unites and develops all languages: innovation, nature, construction, fantasy, art, music, dance, building, writing, talking, signing, science, body, and soul. The multiple languages are used to support children build knowledge and understand the world around them.

The Reggio Emilia Approachelieves that a child has the right to be the protagonist of their own learning. The Reggio Emilia Approach is a child-centered approach, where teachers, parents, and the community are collaborators and partners in a child’s educational journey.

Guiding principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach

1) Image of the Child – The Reggio Emilia Philosophy supports the rights and opinions of each child. The approach holds that a child is a competent, capable, and natural researcher with the desire for knowledge, who is always ready for challenges.

2) The Role of the Teacher – The teacher plays a critical role in a child’s education by recognizing many learning possibilities. To further the learning process, teachers listen, observe, inquire, document, work together and reflect upon the experiences of each child.

3) The Environment as a Third Teacher – The Reggio Emilia Philosophy believes that the environment in which your child explores also provides a wealth of learning opportunities. Reggio Emilia inspired preschools are thoughtful and inviting. Materials in the classroom inspire children to think outside the box.

4) Documentation – To understand children and the way they learn, Reggio Emilia teachers work diligently to document all aspects of the learning process. From daily journals, child-specific observations and children’s artwork, all moments are considered pieces of the process. Teachers and children alike are able to view their learning process through this documentation.

Benefits of a Reggio Emilia preschool

The Reggio Emilia educational approach believes that, through its guiding principles, children are better able to solve problems, engage with their community and environment, welcome new experiences, build social skills, express themselves with confidence, and enjoy learning.

Read more about the benefits of a Reggio Emilia preschool and the KLA Schools curriculum here.

Five Springtime Activities for the Family

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Five Springtime Activities for the Family

Milder spring weather is nearly here, and many families are eager to spend more time outdoors. Here are five springtime activities the whole family can enjoy.

Explore your town

If the weather is warmer where you live, it can be an ideal time to get to know the attractions of your local area. Many of us drive past local museums, galleries, nature areas, farms, and parks on a regular basis, and make a note to visit some day. This spring, why not make a point to check some of those places off your list? Many family-friendly attractions are inexpensive or free, and can offer something fun and educational for everyone.

Learn about other cultures

Help your child learn empathy and meet members of your community by enjoying a cultural event near you. Whether it’s centered around food, music, history, art, language, or dance, there are bound to be many cultural events to choose from this spring. Check your local newspaper or go online to find events near you. Not only are cultural events fun and educational, they are also often very affordable.

Spend an afternoon in the park

With milder weather and longer days, a day in the park is a classic springtime family activity. You can have a picnic or barbecue, play a game of catch or soccer, or go for a nature walk to watch for the signs of spring. If you have older children, you could even do all of these activities, making a full day in the great outdoors.

Discover nature

What better time is there to learn about nature than spring? Children love to learn about nature, and there are many fun ways the whole family can help. For example, you can make a bird feeder together, and then spend the season watching the local birds return home for the summer. You can also have your child take photos of the birds they see, or draw them in a notebook.

Try creating an apple bird feeder, or a bird feeder without peanut butter.

Investigate your local library or community center

Local libraries and community centers offer a wealth of fun family-friendly spring activities. You could visit the library for storytime, enjoy open swim times at the municipal pool, or even take advantage of drop-in times to play a sport together. Libraries and recreation centers are also ideal places for the family to spend a rainy spring day.

No matter what activities your family enjoys, there are many options this spring. These five family-friendly springtime activities will help everyone have fun and spend quality time together.

Keeping Young Children Safe on YouTube

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Keeping Young Children Safe on YouTube

Over the years, YouTube has skyrocketed in popularity. It now has over one billion users daily, and many of these are children. These days, parents are concerned about their children being exposed to YouTube and accidentally coming across a video that is scary. There are also disturbing videos that can seem child-friendly at first, often featuring faked versions of their favorite movie or book characters in frightening or adult situations.

Here are 5 tips to help keep your young child safe on YouTube.

  1. Use parental controls

It’s a good idea to use parental controls on all internet-connected devices in your home wherever possible. YouTube has a Restricted Mode that takes away comments on videos, and doesn’t show videos that feature potentially mature content such as drugs and alcohol, profanity, and violence. Many parents also turn to third-party tools such as Net Nanny, which can add an extra layer of security to your child’s YouTube experience.

  1. Download YouTube Kids

Rather than letting your child explore YouTube, you can try YouTube Kids, a free Android and iOS app that’s specifically created for children. Here, you can block videos or channels, turn search off or on, set a timer, and more. While this can be a better option than traditional YouTube, the algorithm may still be fooled by fake or spoof videos that can appear to be child-friendly content, so be sure to keep monitoring what your child is watching.

  1. Disable search on YouTube Kids

Disabling the search function on YouTube Kids can be an effective way to ensure your child doesn’t accidentally search for a video or subject they shouldn’t see. To turn off the search function on YouTube Kids:

  • Click the lock icon in the lower right of the screen.
  • Enter the passcode, which should be a series of numbers, written out as words. It’s a good idea to create a custom password that only the adults in your household know.
  • Tap “Settings,” go to your child’s profile, and turn search off.
  1. Watch YouTube with your child

While it’s tempting and effective to hand your mobile device to a toddler or preschooler in need of distraction, your own attention can go a long way in avoiding accidental exposure to disturbing content. Ask your child to show you their favorite videos or YouTube channels, and watch a few videos to make sure that there is nothing suspect about the content. You can also take this time to show your child what sorts of things to look out for on YouTube, and ask them if they have ever seen anything they didn’t understand or made them feel uncomfortable.

  1. Try another video app or website

There are many sources of child-friendly entertainment on the internet, including Nick Jr, PBS Kids, and more. For child-friendly videos on your mobile devices, visit Lifewire for a list of nine popular video apps for kids. These apps feature many popular videos from sources such as Cartoon Network, Reading Rainbow, and Disney.

What to do if your child sees a disturbing YouTube video

If your child does accidentally see a YouTube video that scares them, remain calm. Ask them to tell you what they saw and how they felt. It may just be a case of a child misunderstanding something innocent, or it could be something more serious. In any case, you should reassure your child if they are frightened. Without scolding your child, explain that this is why it’s very important for them to only watch videos you have approved of already, and encourage them to ask you questions about the world around them before turning to YouTube.

Tips for Positive Parenting

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Tips for Positive Parenting

All parents want their child to grow up to be a confident, happy person, and there are many ways to help that happen. Positive parenting is a mindset in which the focus is put on nurturing, guidance, empathy, and encouragement, rather than strict rule-following and harsh discipline.

The benefits of positive parenting

When it comes to discipline or simply guiding your child through a task or life stage, the effects of positivity are clear. Studies have shown that behavior problems are more likely to improve when parents switch to positive parenting tactics. Positive parenting has also been shown to reduce stress in children and offer better health outcomes.

Positive parenting can help your child build a strong emotional foundation and learn appropriate behavior. Here are some positive parenting strategies you can begin using today.

Model positive behavior

Parents know that children often do what they see their parents doing. Take this opportunity to model the positive behaviors you’d like your child to learn. For example, if you and your partner are having a disagreement over a scheduling conflict, be sure you both use calm, non-blaming language. This will show your child that conversation is more effective than arguing.

See things from your child’s point of view

While we may see a toddler who is slowing down your efforts to start cooking dinner, it’s important to try and understand why their tantrum is happening. Perhaps they’re tired, or feel like they haven’t had a chance to spend time with you yet. Once you can discover the reason for your child’s behavior, you can address that issue. This will not only go a long way to helping calm the situation quicker, but it will give your child valuable practice in learning to recognize and communicate their feelings.

Praise your child’s good behavior

The common view of discipline is to correct a child when they are misbehaving. However, studies have shown that children whose good behavior is praised began to show fewer behavior issues. For example, if you notice your children sharing their toys, you can say, “It’s good that you two are enjoying those blocks. It must be fun to build a tower together.”

Set realistic rules, and discuss them early

By letting your child know what you expect of them when running errands, dealing with people, or in other situations, you’re giving them the security they need. However, rather than telling them what they can and cannot do, the approach under positive parenting would be to tell them what you expect, and why. Allow them to ask their own questions, and answer them as best you can. This way, your child will feel like more of an active participant. They can be less likely to act out by screaming and running in a restaurant, for example, if they understand that doing so is dangerous and will make others around them upset.

Discipline with empathy

When you do have to correct your child’s behavior, showing empathy for their situation will help them to feel less defiant and more understood. This can help them to feel more in control of their behavior. For example, you can say calmly but firmly, “I know you want to read that book, but it’s not okay to hit your sister.” You can also discuss the event with your child after the fact, if they are too upset to talk at the time. Show your child that you respect their feelings, but ensure they understand what is appropriate and what isn’t.

Use logical consequences for their actions

Young children are still learning to understand cause and effect. As such, it can be confusing for them to have a consequence not match their behavior – for example, if they don’t pick up their toys and the consequence is they don’t get to watch TV for a week. Having the consequence arise as a result of their actions will help your child understand cause and effect, and it will also show them that your discipline is fair and logical. In our toy example, a positive parenting consequence would be that the toys are taken away for a short period of time.

Positive parenting teaches children the importance of having empathy, encouraging respectful two-way communication, problem solving, and understanding the consequences of their actions. Above all, they will see that you will love and respect them unconditionally.

Democratic parenting

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Democratic parenting

There are many ideas and suggestions on how to raise a child, this is why we should always follow our hearts and instincts. It is necessary to build strong and meaningful bonds with our children, where they feel protected, loved and, respected. We can do this by being empathetic, by acknowledging their emotions and by being roles models for them. Offering a respectful upbringing is to listen and value not only to what the children have to say but also, to take into consideration their rights, needs and interests.

A democratic upbringing, is one in which the child’s opinion counts, is valid and important, is one that teaches children to express themselves, without receiving criticism, without feeling judged nor guilty.

When parents offer different choices for the children to have the freedom to choose between one thing or another, when parents give the liberty to the children to solve their conflicts and when they let the children discover the world by themselves while having meaningful experiences, support their critical thinking which it’s crucial for adulthood.

When offering a democratic upbringing, children know that it is okay to make mistakes, that we can see them as opportunities and always learn from them, they feel safe because they are being loved while they receive support during their growth.

Everyone makes their best effort and what is within their reach to raise in the best way possible, remember that we are humans, we learn from our mistakes and when in doubt ask yourself if you would like to be treated how you are treating your children. Always remember, when we do things with love we will obtain excellent results.

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

Follow Raquel’s personal blog on WordPress, Twitter, and on Facebook

Ideas for Decorating Your Child’s Bedroom

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Ideas for Decorating Your Child's Bedroom

Whether your child is settling into their bedroom for the first time, or simply wants something new, you may be looking for décor ideas. Here are some ways you can decorate your child’s bedroom that will allow them to be comfortable and have fun, for a variety of budgets.

Try wall decals

Affordable and reusable, wall decals are an ideal for homes where painting may not be an option. Wall decals come in a variety of sizes, colors, and themes. Your child can decorate their walls with farm animals, cartoon princesses, superheroes, geometric shapes, characters from their favorite movies – even their name. Wall decals can also be used on other smooth surfaces such as doors, windows, bookshelves, and desks.

Colorful furniture and accessories

Decorating your child’s bedroom doesn’t have to involve a complete overhaul of the entire space. If you want to refresh your child’s bedroom décor, it can be as simple as buying a new set of linens, or a rug in their favorite color. Accessories and furniture can be matched with existing items, and replaced easier than redecorating the whole room.

Create DIY artwork

You can cut costs and create something unique for your child by making pieces of décor yourself. Some ideas for DIY artwork for your child’s bedroom are:

No-Sew Rainbow Wall Hanging from Imagine Gnats

Silhouette Canvas Artwork from HGTV

DIY Circle Punch Art from Mer Mag

You can also get your child involved by having them help you paint a bookcase, for example.

Homemade chalkboard

A chalkboard created with chalkboard paint, MDF, primer, and screws can be a fun place for your child to express their creativity. Find the DIY chalkboard tutorial at DIY Network.

Dedicated play area

Children learn through play, so creating a play or art area in your child’s bedroom will be a fun and educational addition to their space. Some examples include a play rug depicting streets to run toy cars along; a small playhouse; a small set of table and chairs for drawing and coloring; or a child-sized easel.

No matter your budget or schedule, there are several options for decorating your child’s bedroom in a way that will reflect their personality and give them a space to call their own.

Handling Toddler Separation Anxiety

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Handling Toddler Separation Anxiety

As a parent, creating a strong bond with your child is one of the most gratifying feelings. However, as babies turn into toddlers, they might start to exhibit signs of separation anxiety when faced with the prospect of being without you.

Signs of separation anxiety include:

  • Clinginess
  • Tantrums
  • Unwillingness to cooperate with caregivers
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness

How to alleviate toddler separation anxiety

Toddlers may develop separation anxiety as a new behavior, even if they were happy to be dropped off at daycare or left with a babysitter as an infant. Even though they’re developing their independence as they grow, their new experiences can feel stressful, and they may worry about losing the security of your presence.

However, separation anxiety is temporary. Here are some age-appropriate ways to help deal with separation anxiety in toddlers.

  • Say goodbye. You may have heard that it can help to distract your child so that you can slip out the door. However, that may actually make your child more anxious, as they can start to believe that you can disappear at any time. Instead, keep your departure positive and short, so that your child will see they have nothing to be concerned about.
  • Let them know when you’ll return. While toddlers won’t have the same concept of time as you do, letting them know when you’ll be back will help reinforce that you always return. You can say something like, “after dinnertime” or “in two sleeps.” Stick to this timeline as well as you can, to help your child trust that you’ll come back when you say you will.
  • Develop a goodbye ritual. A positive goodbye ritual, such as singing a song or doing a special handshake, can help reduce separation anxiety. A ritual can help give your child a sense of routine, and allow for a fun transition.
  • Try gradual transitions. If your child gets anxious when the babysitter arrives, it may help to arrange a more gradual transition. For example, you can ask your babysitter to arrive a few minutes earlier or stay a few minutes later. During this time, you can ask the babysitter to read a book to your child or play a game with them while you are still at home. This can help your child get to know their caregiver without the stress of your absence.
  • Allow your child to have fun alone. If you notice your toddler comfortably spending time on their own, let them enjoy it for as long as possible. For example, if your child wakes up from a nap calmly and begins to play or sing or otherwise entertain themselves, hold off on going in to get them. This will help them to see that being without you doesn’t have to be scary.
  • Respect your child’s feelings. While it can seem encouraging to remind your child that they shouldn’t be afraid, it can feel dismissive to a toddler. To help your child work through their feelings, you can ask them to talk about their fears, assure them it’s normal, and remind them of other times they were able to get through it.
  • Talk to your babysitter or childcare center. Childcare providers are used to separation anxiety, and want your child to feel comfortable and safe. They may have ideas that can help, such as providing a fun activity ready for your child as soon as you leave, to switch their focus to something positive.

Though it can be stressful for both you and your child, separation anxiety in toddlers is normal. With these tips, you can help your toddler understand that being without you isn’t as scary as they may think.

How to Deal With Bedwetting

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How to Deal With Bedwetting

Bedwetting is stressful for children and parents alike, and it can seem like it happens no matter what you do to prevent it. You may feel like you’re alone in dealing with this issue. However, bedwetting is more common than you may think. According to Psychology Today, 5-10% of children still wet the bed at age five.

Here are some tips to help you deal with bedwetting in an effective and compassionate way.

Reassure your child

Children know that wetting the bed isn’t something they’re supposed to do, and they can feel a large amount of shame and stress over it. The most important thing you can do is reassure them that you’re not upset at them. Tell them that it’s normal and common, and it won’t happen forever.

Look at your family history

In many cases, bedwetting can run in families. If you or someone else in your child’s family wet the bed as a child, this could be the cause. Be open about this and tell your child, as it can help them feel less embarrassed.

Is your child stressed?

Anxiety or stress can cause bedwetting. If your child has experienced a major life event such as a move or a new school, try to reduce stressors as much as possible and create a secure home environment. If your child is experiencing anxiety, you can help them find positive coping strategies.

Reduce liquids and caffeine before bed

Drinks with caffeine, such as chocolate milk and hot chocolate, may seem like a relaxing drink before bed. However, they can irritate a child’s bladder and increase urination. You may also consider limiting citrus juice, sweeteners, dyes, and artificial flavors in evening drinks. While you shouldn’t eliminate drinks entirely in the evening, having your child drink the bulk of their daily fluids earlier in the day can help.

Create a bedtime routine for success

Between brushing their teeth, changing into their pajamas, and having their favorite bedtime story read to them, children may forget to visit the toilet before they go to sleep. Help your child to remember this vital part of their bedtime routine, and it will soon become habit.

Bring your child to the toilet at night

It can be tempting to wake your child up once or twice in the night to bring them to the toilet. However, rather than reducing the frequency of bedwetting, this can disrupt your child’s sleep cycle and cause stress – which can actually be a trigger for bedwetting. Instead, wake your child up once before you go to bed, and provide nightlights for them so they can find their way. Doing this on a consistent basis can help make it part of your child’s natural process.

When should you see your doctor?

While bedwetting is very common, sometimes it can be a symptom of a larger issue. If your child is still wetting the bed at the age of seven, you might want to make an appointment to visit their doctor. Other times a doctor’s visit might be necessary are:

  • If your child has been dry for at least three months before wetting the bed again.
  • If your child has pain or unusual symptoms during urination, a fever, or belly pain.
  • If your child wets during the day as well as during the night.

When dealing with bedwetting, the most important thing is to remain patient and compassionate. Bedwetting doesn’t always signify an emotional or physical problem, but it can cause stress for everyone involved. Reward your child’s “dry nights,” but remember that it is a process and setbacks can occur. Try to not let your child see if you are frustrated at the situation, as they can misinterpret your emotions as being directed towards them. Ensure your child’s bedwetting isn’t discussed in front of them, and that siblings or relatives don’t tease them about it. Remain optimistic, and your child will feel optimistic too.

Valentine’s Day Projects To Do With Your Child

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Valentine's Day Projects To Do With Your Child

With Valentine’s Day almost here, it’s an ideal time to get creative with your child. These craft ideas can be used to decorate your home, or given to family and friends.

Heart Stamp

This heart stamp is easy and inexpensive to create, and can be used to decorate cards and letters.

Materials

  • Cardboard tube such as a toilet paper roll
  • Washable child-safe paint in red
  • Paper plate
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Scotch tape

Instructions

  • Flatten the roll, then press one of the creases in the other direction to create a heart shape. You can use tape to help the top of the heart hold its shape.
  • Pour out a small amount of paint onto the paper plate.
  • Dip one end of the roll into the paint, and show the child how to stamp.

Instead of a cardboard tube, a potato stamp can also be created. Parents should create the stamp, because it involves sharp tools. Cut a potato in half, gently push a heart-shaped cookie cutter into the center, and pull it out again. Then, cut away the potato outside of the outline until the heart shape is revealed. Be sure the potato is wiped dry before stamping.

Tissue Paper Heart Collage

These hearts can be displayed in the window to allow the sun to highlight the bright colors.

Materials

  • Red, pink, or white construction paper
  • Tissue paper in bright colors
  • Clear contact paper
  • Glue stick
  • Safety scissors

Instructions

  • Fold a sheet of construction paper in half and draw half of a heart. About an inch inside this, draw another line in the same shape.
  • Cut along both lines and unfold the paper to create the heart-shaped border.
  • Place the border on the sheet of clear contact paper.
  • Help your child tear or cut large strips of the tissue paper, and attach them to the contact paper inside the heart border.
  • Trim the excess contact paper.

 Yarn Hearts

These hearts are quick and easy to make, and ideal to help children develop their fine motor skills.

Materials

  • Cardboard
  • Pink or red yarn
  • Scotch tape

Instructions

  • Cut out a heart shape from a piece of cardboard, ensuring it’s not too small for your child to work with.
  • Tape one end of the yarn to the back of the cardboard.
  • Show your child how to loop the yarn around and around over the cardboard heart.
  • When you’re finished, cut the other end of the yarn and tuck it in the yarn in the back.

Foam Heart Friendship Necklaces

For those who want to get a little more crafty, these necklaces give your child the opportunity to create gifts for their friends and family. The tutorial can also be used to make bracelets or keychains.

Get the tutorial for Foam Heart Friendship Necklaces here.

With these craft ideas, you and your young child can spend some quality time together while also exploring their creativity.

Ten Family Bonding Ideas

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Ten Family Bonding Ideas

As a parent, you know how special quality time with your child is. Families lead busy lives, but it’s important to carve out key bonding time between appointments, errands, and classes. Here are ten family bonding ideas to fit a wide range of time commitments, budgets, and interests.

  1. Family movie night at home – Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, there’s more choice than ever when it comes to family movie night. You can take turns choosing a movie, and offer younger children a limited selection to choose from in order to help them not feel overwhelmed. Many families like to have a themed movie night, and choose snacks and even costumes to match. Whatever you decide, ensure that all devices are off and everyone’s full attention is given to the movie.
  2. Be a tourist in your hometown – Family trips are always a great opportunity to build lasting memories. However, staying closer to home can be just as rewarding, for a fraction of the cost. No matter where you live, there’s likely a local attraction a short drive away. For example, you can pack a healthy lunch and take the family on a walk on a forest trail, spend the day at a natural history museum, or attend a concert that the whole family will enjoy. Together, create a list of ways you can explore your local attractions, and be sure to refer to it often.
  3. Create a family journal – Many adults journal as a way to organize their thoughts and record their experiences, but journaling is also an ideal opportunity to bond as a family. You can create a family journal where, each week, everyone sits down together to reflect on the past week. You can designate one person to write or draw in the journal, or pass it over to a new person each week. Discuss the past week’s activities and events both as a family, and for each individual member. Encourage your children to share how they felt during the week, and what they are looking forward to in the days ahead.
  4. Designate a special family day – All families have their own unique interests, favorite memories, and shared traditions. By designating a special day for the family, you can celebrate all the things everyone likes best. For example, on this day your family might finally take the trip to the amusement park you’ve been talking about for weeks. You might also choose to spend the entire day in your pajamas, or have your children choose the day’s activities. You can also give the day a special name and turn it into a holiday of sorts that’s unique to your family. If possible, take the day off work and don’t schedule any activities, just like you would on a traditional holiday.
  5. Go on a nature walk – Whether it’s a forest hike, a walk along the beach, or a park in your neighborhood, spending time outdoors is an ideal bonding opportunity for families. Not only can you and your children discuss your surroundings and learn more about nature, but it can have a calming effect on everyone.
  6. Play make-believe – Play helps young children learn about themselves and their world. You can make your child’s pretend play into a bonding experience by joining in. Create a blanket fort, dress up with them and act out a play, or these seven other ideas for pretend play.
  7. Eat dinner together – While daily life can be hectic for families, it’s important to sit down to dinner together as often as possible. It helps to create a stable, dependable routine for your child, and it’s also a great time to discuss the day’s events and learn more about each other.
  8. Do a science project – Young children are endlessly curious, and simple at-home science projects can help them to learn and have fun at the same time. Many science projects for preschoolers are simple to set up, and don’t involve a lot of time or expense. You can help your child develop their science and problem-solving skills while building lasting memories.
  9. Volunteer together – Volunteering with a local organization can help teach your child empathy and gratitude, and strengthen their self-esteem. Many organizations offer opportunities for families to volunteer together. For example, your family can feed animals at a local farm, serve food at a homeless shelter, or sort donations at the food bank. Many organizations have activities specifically designed for younger children.
  10. Talk – Sometimes, a simple conversation can be all you need to bond as a family. Whether it’s a conversation about a serious topic such as bullying or anxiety, or a chat about their day at preschool, simply showing your child that you’re interested in their thoughts will strengthen your bond. Give your child your full attention during these conversations, and show them that you’re listening.

With these ten family bonding ideas, you and your family can build memories and grow closer together. Use them as a starting point to create your own unique bonding activities.

The way we communicate with others

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The way we communicate with others

The way we choose to communicate with others can determine the response we get from the other person.

The way in which we transmit messages to our children will have an extremely significant impact on our relationship with them and their behavior. Depending on the way in which we communicate, we allow the other to know what is the image we have about them, about the situation we are experiencing and about how we feel about a certain situation.

The messages that we transmit, have much more power than we imagine, for this reason it is so important that us as adults are aware of this when addressing any situations with children. Words could be soothing for the soul or they can do a lot of emotional damage.

When communicating with children, it is essential that we take into account our body language, the tone of voice that we are using and if the message that we are sending is positive and respectful.

Let’s be fully present when having a conversation with our children, let’s give them everything from us, let’s be a role model, let’s listen carefully and pay attention to what the children have to say, let’s speak with our hearts, let’s connect with them with our mind and soul. I assure you that the results will always be wonderful.

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

Follow Raquel’s personal blog on WordPress, Twitter, and on Facebook

How Meditation Helps Children

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How Meditation Helps Children

The popularity of meditation is increasing in adults, as people learn about the benefits it can have on their mood, productivity, and focus. However, the benefits of mediation for children are impressive as well. Here are some ways that meditation helps children.

Improved attention and behavior

During a six-week study that consisted of in-clinic sessions twice a week and regular meditation at home, improvements in children’s ADHD behavior, self-esteem, and relationships were reported. Other mindfulness and meditation studies have shown improvements in concentration, and a reduction in hyperactivity. A study of the effects of meditation in preschoolers showed an improvement in memory and planning skills. By helping to teach your child how to direct their attention to one thing at a time, meditation can help them to feel better able to focus.

Reduced stress and improved mental health

Research on meditation in children has shown that it can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety, and results in them feeling happier and more relaxed. While certain mental health issues cannot rely on meditation alone, it can be a useful strategy for your child to help regulate their stress levels, reduce their anxiety, and regulate their emotions.

Greater empathy and self-awareness

If you’ve ever meditated yourself, you know that it can be a great way to help you be aware of your thought processes and reactions. This improvement in self-awareness is possible in children as well. Meditation can help children understand which of their thoughts and emotions are more prevalent, and gives them the power to choose which ones to deal with. As a result, they feel more secure and stable, which can be a stepping stone to greater empathy. When a child has a strong self-image and is able to understand why they act the way they do, they’re better able to feel compassion for others.

Better physical health

While it may not seem obvious, meditation and mindfulness can have beneficial effects on a child’s physical health. Meditation calms the nervous system and decreases stress. Research has also shown that meditation has positive effects on high blood pressure, obesity, headaches, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

There are many age-appropriate ways to help your child get started with meditation. First, create a designated space in your home that’s comfortable and free of distractions. Encourage your child to do some deep breathing with you, and ask them to visualize a balloon filling up with air slowly, and then releasing that air just as slowly. You can also ask them to visualize a relaxing activity, such as lying in a hammock on a lazy summer day. If your child’s awareness wanders, gently bring them back to the visualization, but don’t force them to participate. Walking or standing meditations are also possible if your child is having trouble sitting still.

For preschoolers, you can try meditation for a few minutes per day, moving up to 10 minutes twice per day for school-age children. Because meditation can be very relaxing, many families like to introduce it to their children as part of their bedtime routine.

Cozy Winter Meals for Preschoolers

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Cozy Winter Meals for Preschoolers

When the cooler winter weather sets in, many of us begin to crave warming comfort food. If you’re looking for cozy winter meals that your preschooler will enjoy, read on for quick and easy ideas.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup 

There’s nothing more cozy than soup on a chilly winter day, and this slow cooker chicken tortilla soup is as warming as it is easy. With a slow cooker, you can start dinner when you leave for work, or a few hours before dinnertime. This recipe is also highly customizable to your family’s tastes. 

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 cups of salsa
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 cup tortilla strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnishes such as chopped avocado, shredded cheese, or sour cream

Method:

  1. In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for garnishes. Stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken breasts from the pot and shred with two forks. Return the shredded pieces to the slow cooker.
  4. Stir in the garnishes and serve.

One Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

Young children love pizza, but ordering pizza can become expensive. Instead, try this pasta bake that has all the flavors of a classic pepperoni pizza. You can customize this recipe to add your preschooler’s favorite pizza toppings such as mushrooms or tomatoes, and there’s just one pot to wash afterwards. To make it a complete meal, add some veggies and dip or fruit on the side.

Get the One Pot Pizza Pasta Bake recipe here.

Pizza Crescent Rolls

For another pizza-inspired meal that would be ideal for lunch at home, try making pizza crescent rolls. All you need is frozen crescent roll dough, a bit of pasta sauce, and your child’s favorite pizza toppings.

Roll out the dough onto a baking sheet. Have your child help you add toppings, remembering not to overstuff the rolls. Then, roll up each one into crescent roll shapes, and bake at 375°F for 10-13 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with warmed pasta sauce for dipping.

Muffin Tin Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a classic comfort food, but cooking it the traditional way can take a long time. Instead, try portioning the meat mixture into a muffin tin. This way, you can have dinner on the table in just half an hour. Simply prepare a typical meatloaf recipe, but bake in a muffin tin at 400°F for 20 minutes.

Asian Noodles With Peanut Sauce

Many kids love peanut butter, so noodles with peanut sauce can be a fun meal for young children. This Asian Noodles With Peanut Sauce recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes, and uses only a few ingredients. You can substitute Thai rice noodles or udon noodles, and make any protein and vegetable additions your child likes. Your preschooler can help you by mixing sauce ingredients and adding their own toppings to the noodles.

No matter what food your preschooler enjoys, there is a cozy and comforting winter meal they’ll love. Try these five cozy winter recipes for warming family meals.

Time-Saving Dinner Ideas for Busy Families

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Time-Saving Dinner Ideas for Busy Families

For many families, evenings are a busy time. Between parents returning home from work, errands, and the children’s activities, there sometimes seems to be barely any time to prepare a nutritious family dinner. With that in mind, here are some time-saving dinner ideas for busy families that can be prepared in thirty minutes or less.

Stir-fry

A stir-fry is a quick and highly customizable dinner option for busy families. You can use a frozen vegetable mix, or prep your family’s favorite vegetables such as mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and bell peppers. You can use protein such as tofu, shrimp, beef, or chicken. Have some stir-fry sauces on hand in your pantry, or create your own – for example, whisk together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water, then add ½ cup of chicken stock, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar. Serve with steamed rice or noodles, and you have a quick and complete meal.

Breakfast for dinner

Whether it’s eggs, pancakes, French toast, or waffles, breakfast food can be prepared quickly. Not to mention, it can be a fun treat for children to eat their favorite weekend breakfast during the week. Try scrambled eggs served with salsa and avocado, or with fruit and whole grain toast on the side. Serve pancakes or waffles with nut butter and plenty of fresh fruit or applesauce. To help make this process quicker, you can freeze your weekend pancakes by placing a sheet of wax paper between each one, and freezing the stack in aluminum foil.

Roast chicken

While roasting a chicken does take longer than 30 minutes, the meat can be eaten for days afterwards. You can either roast a chicken on the weekend, or pick up a ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store on your way home from work. Then, you can use the chicken for meals such as chicken tinga tacos, BBQ chicken pizza, or served as-is with your favorite sides.

No-cook meals

Not cooking dinner at all might sound strange to some, but it can save time and also help you clear out your fridge and pantry. Some examples of no-cook meals include: a platter of cold cuts, cheese, crackers, veggies and apple slices; or sandwiches and wraps, such as refried beans, salsa, shredded lettuce and diced tomato in a whole-wheat tortilla. These ultra-quick meals are ideal to ensure your child is getting proper nutrition and energy while also being on time for that evening’s activity.

Weekday evenings can be busy ones for many families, but these three time-saving dinner ideas can inspire a week of quick and nutritious meals in 30 minutes or less.

Encouraging Healthy Habits in Children

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Encouraging Healthy Habits in Children

According to a study conducted by Brown University, a child’s routines and habits formed before the age of nine are unlikely to change as they get older. Early childhood is the best time to instill healthy habits in your children, so that they will grow to become healthy adults. Here are some tips for encouraging healthy habits in your child.

Physical health

  • Have your child visit their pediatrician every year for a checkup. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends yearly wellness examinations starting at age five.
  • Ensure your child is up to date on all their required vaccinations.
  • Starting at age three, bring your child to the dentist twice per year for checkups and cleanings.
  • Teach your child about the components of a healthy, nutritious meal.
  • Involve your child in meal planning and preparation in an age-appropriate way. For example, you can bring your child grocery shopping with you and ask them to help you select fruits and vegetables.
  • Reduce junk food and sweets, and encourage healthy snacking, such as apple slices with peanut butter, or veggies and dip.
  • Find at least one or two foods from each food group that your child enjoys, and ensure they are always available.
  • Let your child finish eating when they are full.
  • Help your child understand where food comes from. For example, they can help you grow vegetables in a backyard or kitchen garden.
  • Ensure your child gets adequate sleep.
  • Eat together as a family and make mealtimes a positive experience.
  • Work physical activity into your daily family life. For example, park a little further from the store when running errands, or do a weekly bike ride around the neighborhood together.
  • Plan family activities that involve some exercise, such as a hike on a weekend afternoon.
  • Encourage your child to find and pursue organized sports or fitness activities they enjoy.
  • Get your child involved in household chores.
  • Model healthy eating behavior and physical health with your own habits.

Mental and emotional health

  • Help your child build positive skills to cope with stress, such as teaching them positive things they can tell themselves when they get scared.
  • Encourage your child to problem-solve and think rationally in an age-appropriate way.
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings, and discuss them in a calm and respectful way.
  • Reduce stressors in your child’s life as much as possible.
  • Help your child to relax and reduce anxiety with breathing exercises, yoga, or massage.
  • Let your child express their feelings, whether it be through laughter, crying, or talking.
  • Encourage regular physical activity as a way to manage stress.
  • Help your child to socialize and make friends. This can take the form of encouraging your child to say hi to other children at the park, or inviting a couple of preschool friends over for a play date.
  • Encourage honest two-way communication in your family.
  • Let your child know they can talk to you about anything.
  • Give your child challenges that they have a reasonable chance of accomplishing, but still push them slightly out of their comfort zone. For example, asking your four-year-old to help you measure ingredients while cooking.
  • Teach your child that mistakes are learning experiences.
  • Focus on your child’s strengths and encourage their individuality.
  • Encourage empathy and help your child find common ground with others.
  • Give your child one-on-one time on a regular basis.
  • If you notice negative changes in your child’s thoughts, feelings, or actions, talk to your child’s doctor.
  • Model healthy emotional and mental behavior. For example, allow your child to see you take responsibility for your actions, or let them hear you say, “I’m feeling worried because there’s so much to do before we leave. Can you help me by putting your toys away?”
  • Make sure your child knows you love and support them no matter what.

Physical, mental, and emotional health habits are important to instill in young children as early as possible. These tips can be easily incorporated into your family’s everyday life, and will help your child learn healthy habits that will stay with them for life.

Celebrating the New Year With Your Child

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Celebrating the New Year With Your Child

The end of the year is an exciting time, with hopeful ideas for the future. It’s an ideal time to celebrate as a family. Here are some family-friendly ways to celebrate the new year with your child – both on New Year’s Eve and in the days before.

  • Watch fireworks. Many locations offer family New Year’s Eve firework displays earlier than midnight, taking advantage of winter’s earlier sunset. As always, be sure to attend only public, professional fireworks events to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Have a family movie night. Even if your child can’t participate in the festivities at midnight, a New Year’s Eve movie night is a fun way to celebrate. Choose your family’s favorite movies and start a new tradition.
  • Celebrate the new year as it happens elsewhere. Staying up until midnight may not be possible for your child, but why not celebrate the new year at midnight in another time zone? For example, if you live in the Eastern time zone, you can go online and tune in to New Year’s Eve celebrations as it turns midnight in England. Your child will be able to experience the fun, while also going to bed at a reasonable hour.
  • Throw a new year’s party before the big day. The holiday season is full of socializing, but you can hold a short, small gathering of your child’s closest friends to celebrate the new year. Play dress-up, blow noisemakers, throw confetti, watch movies, write out wishes for the new year, and listen to fun music. If you have an older child, a slumber party is also a fun idea.
  • Talk about your family’s favorite moments of the year. The end of the year is an ideal time to look back and reflect. As a family, share your favorite memories and stories, both as a group and as individuals. You can create a scrapbook of the year with drawings, photos, and other mementoes of the events.
  • Learn about new year traditions around the world. Whether you share traditions from your own culture or research something new, this is an ideal way to help your child learn about the world.
  • Do a balloon drop. Party stores sell balloon drop bags, which you can hang from the ceiling and then release at midnight (or at an hour of your choosing if you have younger children). Afterwards, you can use the balloons for balloon party games for children.
  • Investigate family New Year’s Eve parties in your town. Many towns will hold earlier events for families on New Year’s Eve. Whether it’s ice skating, plays, games, face painting or music, there’s something for everyone.
  • Allow older children to stay up late. For older children, staying up to watch the New Year’s Eve countdown can be an exciting event. Make a family evening out of it by dressing in your comfiest pajamas, making popcorn, and drinking hot chocolate or sparkling juice.
  • Create a new food tradition. There are many delicious and exciting edible treats to help the family ring in the new year. Lemon Lime Adventures has some easy New Year’s Eve snacks and drinks for children to enjoy.
  • Make a fun plan for January 1. Together, decide how your family will commemorate the first day of the year. Whether it’s sleeping in or going out for breakfast, choose something everyone will look forward to.

Setting Family Holiday Goals

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Setting Family Holiday Goals

This time of year, many of us are thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. However, setting goals for the holiday season can be an ideal time for your entire family to set goals. Here are some tips for setting family holiday goals.

Take time to sit down together

Being able to get together and have a discussion is the best way to identify family goals for the holidays. The length of time you can do this depends on your schedule and the age of your children, but do the best you can. As a family, discuss things you would like to accomplish this holiday season, and ways you can meet your goals.

Write down all ideas

Brainstorming is a vital part of goal-setting. Not only does it encourage creativity and allows everyone to participate. In particular, children like to feel involved in the family, and that their ideas have value. No matter how small or big, write down all goals and discuss them later.

Discuss and choose a few goals

Even if every family holiday goal idea sounds wonderful, it’s important to remember your family’s time and resources. Be sure to set goals that you have a reasonable chance of accomplishing. Discuss ways that all family members can work together to meet the goals, and write down the action steps with timelines.

Incorporate written and visual aids

Younger children may not be able to follow along with a written to-do list, so it may benefit them to use visual aids. For example, if one of your family holiday goals is to read more books together, you can draw the family reading. No matter which format your goals list takes, post it somewhere where everyone can see it.

Adjust as necessary

Setting family holiday goals is an ideal opportunity to teach your child about how to work together. Review your goals regularly to see if you need to make adjustments. If a component of your plan isn’t working as intended, take the time to discuss how you can fix the issue together.

Ideas for Family Holiday Goals

 Do more winter activities together, such as sledding or skating

  • Create gifts for each other instead of purchasing them
  • Reserve three evenings per week for family time instead of holiday engagements
  • Spend more time with extended family
  • Bake holiday treats together
  • Cook more meals together
  • Donate food, winter clothes, toys and other items to your local food bank or homeless shelter
  • Have a family holiday movie night
  • Start a new holiday tradition
  • Create New Year’s Resolutions
  • Think of family traditions to start in the new year

 The holiday season is an ideal time to gather as a family and plan some goals. Brainstorm ideas, choose the main goals, and remain flexible and work together, and your family will have a holiday season to remember fondly.

Winter Safety Tips for Children

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Winter Safety Tips for Children
For many, winter is a time to get out and enjoy family-friendly activities such as skating, sledding, and building snowmen. However, cold winter weather can also pose serious health and safety risks for young children. Here are some tips for keeping your child safe this winter. Choose winter outfits wisely Layers are crucial in winter. Children have a lower tolerance to cold weather than adults do, so dress your child in one more layer than you would put on yourself. Ensure their ears are covered by their hat, and that they wear warmer mittens instead of gloves. If your child’s clothing becomes wet or sweaty, take them inside and give them dry clothes right away. Ensure your child’s clothing doesn’t have drawstrings or any other hanging items that can be caught while playing – look for snaps or Velcro instead. Scarves can also pose a hazard in young children. Limit your child’s outdoor time Outdoor play in the winter can be fun, but children shouldn’t stay outside too long. To help reduce the risk of frostbite, ensure they take frequent breaks to come back inside and warm up. Bring them inside if they get wet. If the weather is -13°F or lower, exposed skin will begin to freeze. Watch for frostbite and hypothermia If a child spends too much time in extreme winter weather, they are at a greater risk for frostnip or frostbite. Frostnip is an early warning sign for frostbite, and presents as red or tingly skin. If your child begins to experience this, bring them inside, remove wet clothing, and immerse the affected body part in warm 104-108°F water. According to Kidshealth.org, “Frostbite occurs mostly on fingers, toes, ears, noses, and cheeks. The area becomes very cold and turns white or yellowish gray.” Hypothermia warning signs are shivering, slurred or mumbling speech, confusion, a weak pulse, and unusual lack of coordination. These are both emergency situations, and your child should be taken to the nearest emergency room right away. Don’t forget the sunscreen In the winter, the thought of sunburn seems like a million miles away. However, because of the reflective nature of snow, up to 85% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can still affect your child. Apply sunscreen to exposed areas of your child’s skin 15 to 30 minutes before they go out to play. Be safe in your surroundings Teaching your child safety skills in winter is vitally important. For example:
  • Do not walk across icy lakes or rivers, as the ice may be thinner than it looks.
  • Do not put metal objects in or on your mouth, because lips and tongues can freeze to the metal.
  • Do not eat snow, because it may be dirty.
  • Play away from roads and snowbanks, as the piled-up snow could limit the view of drivers.
  • Stay away from snowplows and snowblowers.
  • Never throw snowballs at people or animals, as they could contain ice or small pieces of other harmful debris.
  • Don’t build snow forts, as they can collapse.
Take safety precautions with activities Here are some key safety tips for some popular winter activities:
  • Ice Skating Safety Tips
    • A proper ski or hockey helmet should always be worn, and replaced every five years.
    • Skates should be comfortable and snug, with good ankle support.
    • Skating rinks are safer than lakes or ponds, as the ice thickness is monitored.
    • Children should skate in areas that are quiet and free of obstacles.
  • Sledding Safety Tips
    • Children should wear ski or hockey helmets on sleds, to prevent head injury from falling.
    • Ensure children sled sitting up or kneeling, rather than lying down head-first.
    • Allow your child to sled only on hills that are safe – look for an obstacle-free slope of 30° or less, which ends in a long and flat area.
    • Keep away from roads.
  • Skiing or Snowboarding Safety Tips
    • Ensure that children take lessons from a qualified instructor.
    • Always supervise your child when skiing or snowboarding.
    • Children should wear ski helmets with adequate side vents so they can hear.
    • Protective ski goggles should be worn as well.
    • Equipment should be checked once per year by a qualified technician.
    • Because injuries occur after a loss of control, stunts, or fatigue, ensure your child can control their speed, avoid stunts, and is not overly tired.
    • Stick to open ski areas and marked trails, and avoid icy conditions.

Ways to Encourage Your Child’s Self-Esteem

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Ways to Encourage Your Child's Self-Esteem

Children with healthy self-esteem see many positive life benefits, including:

  • The ability to make friends
  • Creativity
  • Confidence in their decisions
  • Confidence in their own values and beliefs
  • Seeing themselves as worthy of proper treatment
  • Willingness to try new things
  • An easier time behaving well
  • An easier time saying “no” to uncomfortable or unsafe situations
  • Resilience and willingness to try again after failure

As a parent, you are the most influential person in your child’s life. Here are some ways you can help to encourage your child’s self-esteem.

Help your child to do things themselves

Sometimes, it might seem easier to tie your child’s shoes or organize their toys for them. However, letting your child try to do things on their own is an ideal way to help them learn in a safe environment. You can show them how to tie their shoe at first, then encourage them to try it on their own. Let them know it’s okay if they make a mistake, and offer support and guidance if they ask. Try to gauge the appropriate difficulty of a task so it’s within their ability.

Empowering your child to make their own choices is another good way to develop their self-esteem. For example, they can choose between their three favorite sweaters, or decide whether they want eggs or waffles for breakfast. This will help them to make confident decisions in a low-risk scenario.

Don’t over-praise your child

Part of healthy self-esteem is feeling competent and confident. These skills are developed by trial and error, and by challenging themselves and practicing. As a parent, you want your child to know that they can do anything. However, praising your child for every action may have the opposite effect. According to Dr. Jim Taylor, “If you keep telling your child she is already doing a fantastic job, you’re saying she no longer needs to push herself.” In addition, children often already have a sense of how well they’ve performed an action, and if they don’t believe they’ve earned your praise, it can confuse them or teach them to not trust their own instincts.

Praise effort instead of results

Praise such as “You’re working so hard at your drawing, and I love the way you colored in those flowers” is more productive and encouraging than, “You’re the best artist in the whole world!” With encouragement on effort, attitude, and progress, your child is more likely to keep going. These are specific, easy-to-understand things that your child can focus on and relate to, and shows them what they can do to meet their goals.

Teach your child that mistakes are okay

As an adult, you’re accustomed to not accomplishing what you set out to accomplish. You know that you can try again, or switch tactics and try another way. However, children don’t have this experience, and can take failure very personally. To help your child feel comfortable with making mistakes, teach them that failure is a learning experience. You can do this in the moment, by saying things like, “It’s okay if you can’t climb up the rope ladder right now. Maybe you can try practicing on that shorter ladder that doesn’t swing around too much.” You can also share your own stories of times you didn’t accomplish a task, but found another way to your goal.

Focus on your child’s strengths

A person with healthy self-esteem recognizes that they can’t do everything. Rather, they focus more on their strengths than on their weaknesses. You can build your child’s self-esteem by encouraging them to focus on things they love and are good at. For example, if your child’s siblings are all play on the local soccer team, it can seem natural that your child would join them. But if they prefer another activity such as reading or ballet, encouraging that will show them that they are individuals with their own strengths that are worth pursuing. They will also feel more willing to improve and take risks to accomplish their goals.

Model good self-esteem

Nobody’s perfect – and it’s important for your child to realize this – but modeling good self-esteem gives your child a real-world example of how they can behave as well. Let your child see how you tackle everyday tasks such as creating a shopping list, preparing a meal, or making small talk with neighbors. In particular, you may want to focus on how you work through problems such as forgetting your shopping list at home, or politely turning down a dinner invitation when you have other commitments. Show your child how you cope with setbacks, face new challenges, and remain patient in the face of obstacles.

Helping your child to develop their self-esteem is a rewarding process, and will set them up with an important foundation for success later in life. Above all, remain patient and make sure your child knows that you love and support them just the way they are.

The Importance of Playing

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The Importance of Playing

When children play, they learn about themselves and their surroundings while exploring and discovering about the world. Play is an essential part of every child’s life and it is vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.

These are some of the benefits children get from playing:

  • Promotes their imagination, independence and creativity
  • Increases their self-awareness and self-esteem
  • Improves and maintains their physical and mental health
  • Provides opportunities for developing social skills
  • Helps children to build resilience through problem solving and to manage frustrations
  • Increases attention, concentration and memory
  • Promotes an ability to think with flexibility

All children should have time to play freely during their childhood because it is their right.

Is your child getting enough time for free playing?

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

Follow Raquel’s personal blog on WordPress, Twitter, and on Facebook

Food Safety Tips for Young Children

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Food Safety Tips for Young Children

According to Foodsafety.gov, “children under the age of five are at an increased risk for foodborne illness and related health complications because their immune systems are still developing.” Serious food infections such as salmonella and E. coli are seen more often in children younger than the age of five. Because children’s immune systems are not fully developed, and they produce less bacteria-killing stomach acid than adults, food safety for young children is an important concern.

Here are food safety tips to help keep your child’s mealtimes safe.

Before you cook

Before preparing food, be sure to wash your hands with warm, soapy water. Wash again if you stop to use the bathroom, touch a pet, change a diaper, or anything else that can introduce contamination. If handling raw meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and shellfish, wash hands afterwards as well. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, eggs, fish, or shellfish to avoid the risk of cross-contamination, and wash anything that comes into contact with those foods.

Young children can help in the kitchen, but prevent them from touching the raw food mentioned above. Raw cookie dough and cake batter can also pose a safety risk to children because of the uncooked eggs inside.

While cooking

Cook all food to the proper temperature to ensure harmful bacteria is killed. Invest in a good food thermometer, as it isn’t always easy to tell if something is cooked just by looking at it.

Foodsafety.gov has a handy chart of safe minimum cooking temperatures for your reference.

Along with raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and shellfish, unpasteurized foods and beverages pose a risk to children. These include unpasteurized milk, honey, and cheese.

During the meal

Before eating, ensure every member of the family washes their hands as well.

Food should be consumed as soon as possible after preparing it. Keep hot food at a minimum of 140°F, and cold foods at a maximum of 40°F.

Be conscious of the size of the food your child is putting into their mouth. Certain food can pose a choking hazard to children younger than the age of four, including sticky food, slippery food, and small firm food. Examples of hard-to-swallow foods include popcorn, peanuts, hot dog slices, marshmallows, chunky peanut butter, gummy candies, large pieces of raw vegetables, grapes, and cherry tomatoes. To reduce the risk, cut up food into small pieces smaller than half an inch, and monitor your child while they eat. Ensure they don’t walk, run, lie down, or play as they eat.

Storing food

Food should be refrigerated within two hours or less. Food that has cooled to room temperature may be in the “Danger Zone” – between 40° and 140°F – where bacteria can grow rapidly. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer as soon as possible, and ensure that raw food is stored separately from cooked food. Raw food should be kept on a lower shelf to avoid dripping onto other food below.

Tips for Taking Care of a Sick Preschooler

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Tips for Taking Care of a Sick Preschooler

Cold and flu season is approaching, and sometimes preschoolers come home sick, despite your best efforts. Here are some tips for taking care of your sick preschooler while remaining healthy yourself.

Understand the difference between a cold and the flu

Sometimes a cold and the flu can have similar symptoms. However, the common cold is not as serious as the flu, and often doesn’t require a visit to the doctor. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, they may have the flu:

  • A sudden fever
  • Body aches, which may be severe
  • Chills and shakes
  • Headache
  • A dry cough and a sore throat
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Loss of appetite

Upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting are also possible. If your child’s fever lasts more than three or four days, they are having trouble breathing, a cough that won’t go away or gets worse, or ear pain, you may want to call their doctor. Stanford Children’s Health has more information about how to tell if your child’s illness could be something more serious.

Let your child rest

Rest is essential for helping your child’s body fight viruses. Encourage sleep by creating a quiet and comfortable environment. Depending on your child’s illness, a humidifier may help them to relax. Even when your child is awake, they should be resting as much as possible. Set up a bed on the couch and give your child a calming activity to work on, such as reading or coloring. Reduce screen time as much as possible, as they may get too engrossed in what they’re watching and ignore their body’s natural cues to rest. Some parents also like to set up several rest stations around the house to prevent their child from getting bored and cranky.

Come up with interesting but relaxing indoor activities

Even if your child has a cold, they may feel energetic and eager to resume their normal activities. While rest is important, a few enjoyable and calm activities can help your child keep their spirits up. Examples of low-energy indoor activities include puzzles, non-competitive board games, building toys, drawing, modeling with clay, and playing pretend with stuffed animals. Some parents also keep a stash of coloring books, puzzles, and quiet toys on hand that they bring out only on rainy days. These can be a good solution for keeping your child from getting bored during a sick day at home as well.

Help your child take their medicine

Pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann says, “Talk about ‘medicine time’ like it’s an enjoyable thing. Kids can pick up on negative tone and body language.” Some antibiotics come in child-approved flavors such as grape and banana, while some pharmacies will add these flavors in free of charge. You may also want to give your child some measure of control over taking their medicine, such as offering them either a spoon or a small cup. This way, they may feel more confident and less afraid of the medicine. Explaining to your child that the medicine will help them feel better is another way to include them in the process and help them feel that they are an active participant. Young children love to feel involved, and giving them small amounts of control and influence over their medicine can go a long way.

Give your child plenty of fluids

Along with rest and medicine, ensuring your child stays well-hydrated is an important factor in healing. If your child doesn’t want to drink water, you can offer non-citrus fruit juice diluted with water to reduce the sugar. An oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte is a quick way to replenish your child’s fluids and electrolytes after vomiting or diarrhea. Popsicles and clear soups are other sources of hydration to help your child get better.

Make cuddle time a priority

Your child will likely need comfort when they’re sick, and may even be a bit scared. Giving your child plenty of cuddles and attention will help them feel more comfortable and relaxed. This can also be an ideal opportunity to teach your child ways to prevent the spread of germs, such as coughing and sneezing into their elbow, and washing their hands frequently. If you can’t give your child physical affection, ensure that your child knows you’re nearby if they need you, and offer their favorite stuffed animals or comfort items.

Take care of yourself too

Even if your child’s illness is mild, you may be concerned or stressed about their wellbeing. This is perfectly natural, but it’s important to ensure you keep your own health in mind as well. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and finding ways to reduce your stress. You may want to cancel social engagements or delegate certain errands to other members of the household. Not only can this help prevent the spread of germs, but it can also give you a chance to relax and reduce your own chances of becoming sick.

Sometimes, despite the best precautions, your child can catch a bug and come home sick. However, with these tips, you can help take care of your sick preschooler and get them on the road to recovery.

Thanksgiving Recipes You Can Make With Your Child

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Thanksgiving Recipes You Can Make With Your Child

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family and connect over a delicious meal. Getting your child involved with Thanksgiving cooking is not only a great way to spend time together, it can also teach them important math-related skills and help them build their confidence. Picky eaters are also more likely to eat something if they’ve participated in making it themselves.

Here are some child-friendly Thanksgiving recipes you can make together this year.

Mashed Potatoes

A classic Thanksgiving staple, mashed potatoes are an ideal dish for your child to help make. They can select the best potatoes, measure ingredients, and even help you with mashing.

Try Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes from Genius Kitchen, or Garlic & Herb Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes from the Soccer Mom Blog.

Cheesy Cauliflower Tots

Plain cauliflower may not be your child’s favorite food, but adding cheese can help it seem more appealing. If you chop the cauliflower, you can let your child mix the ingredients and help them fill a muffin tin.

Find the Cheesy Cauliflower Tots recipe at Julie Harrington’s website.

Cranberry Crescent Rolls or Apple Pie Bites

With just two ingredients, cranberry crescent rolls are a unique Thanksgiving appetizer that isn’t complicated to put together. Depending on the age of your child, they may be able to assemble these crescent rolls on their own, while all you’ll need to do is handle using the oven.

Get the recipe for Cranberry Crescent Rolls at Beauty Through Imperfection.

Apple Pie Bites also use frozen crescent roll dough as a base, and add brown sugar, apple pie spice, pecans, and apple slices. You can find the recipe for Apple Pie Bites at The Blond Cook.

No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

With just five ingredients and no baking required, children can take ownership over the Thanksgiving Day dessert. You may want to help with measuring and mixing ingredients, depending on the age of your child.

Find the recipe for No-Bake Pumpkin Pie from Highlights.

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

These sweet dessert bites are easy to make, just requiring your child to cut out shapes with cookie cutters, brush the tortillas with butter, and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. All you’ll have to do is take care of the baking.

View the Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips recipe at Mom Endeavors.

As always, when helping your child cook in the kitchen, keep safety in mind. Ensure your child knows the rules of the kitchen, and be sure to handle all chopping and stove and oven tasks yourself. Be patient and keep it fun, and your child will enjoy their time helping you create this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

KLA Schools Acquires Country Day School

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KLA Schools Acquires Country Day School

KLA Schools’ first school in the state of Alabama

KLA Schools has just completed the acquisition of Country Day School in Huntsville, Alabama. This is the third school the company acquires as a corporate school. Country Day School will become the first KLA Schools in the state of Alabama. As part of KLA Schools’ growth and expansion plan, the company began implementing strategic acquisitions in 2015. Through these acquisitions KLA Schools plans to increase its brand presence all over the country by offering its unique benefits to communities.

“The idea of expanding through acquisitions was born from the fact that the focus of the childcare industry is moving to not only include quality of care, but quality of education and curriculum,” said Roberto Ortega, founder and president of KLA Schools. “Usually the time and resources needed to develop existing childcare centers, in addition to the long-term commitment and journey that education requires, has presented an opportunity for current owners and operators to see in KLA Schools the right organization to take over their operations and grow them together with current and future generations.”

Country Day School is also inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education. It is the only preschool with this approach in the region. This will help make the transition to KLA Schools easier which will be sometime in the near future. Located north of Research Park in West Huntsville, the school’s campus encompasses a 24,000 sq. ft. facility. This state of the art preschool thru 8th grade facility is surrounded by 21 acres of nature with hiking trails and a dry creek.

Through these strategic acquisitions KLA Schools plans to help current childcare business owners through a smooth transition of ownership that allows the owner to complete a successful exit from the business. This also allows KLA to continue operating the preschool/childcare in a way which preserves the basis of the organization, while enhancing its curriculum with its innovative approach to education.

To learn more about Country Day School visit www.country-day.com.

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Preparing for Family Holiday Trips

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Preparing for Family Holiday Trips

Even though the time for family summer vacations is past us, many of us will be traveling to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving. Whether you’re traveling across town or across the country, our tips will help you focus on family this holiday, and reduce your travel stress.

Plan ahead

With millions of Americans traveling for Thanksgiving, the holiday season is a hectic time for travel. The sooner your plans are finalized, the better you may be able to avoid logistical headaches. For example, if you book travel or hotel tickets earlier, you might avoid the restrictive cancelation options that are typically added on closer to Thanksgiving. Tickets may also be cheaper if you book sooner.

If you are traveling by plane, you may want to investigate alternate airports to potentially reduce the holiday crowds. Be sure to plan your layovers carefully as well, to allow your family enough time to make connections.

If you’re driving, planning your route in advance is also advised. Come up with alternate routes in case there are travel delays or advisories when you’re passing through.

Pack strategically

While you may be excited to bring gifts to everyone you’re visiting, packing as light as possible can help you get through check-in lines easier. Create a list of essential items for both you and your child, and do a test pack beforehand to ensure you have as much room as you think you do. If you are bringing gifts, leave them unwrapped to reduce the possibility of wasted time in airport baggage screening. If possible, traveling with carry-on luggage only will save you even more time and hassle.

Leave early

Whether it’s a long line at airport security or traffic jams on the freeway, starting your journey at peak hours can lead to stress and headaches for everyone. Leave as early as you can to allow for unexpected delays, so you and your family can have an easier trip. Traveling early or late in the day can help you avoid the busiest travel hours.

Keep all planning-related items handy

During the busy holiday travel season, ten minutes spent searching for your boarding passes or your hotel’s address can add up to increased stress and frustration. Keep all of your important travel information in one place that’s easy for you to access. For example: flight and hotel confirmations, airline or train tickets, and contact information for friends and family you’re visiting. Ensure all smartphones and tablets are fully charged so you aren’t held up by a drained battery.

Avoid toddler and preschooler meltdowns

While your children might enjoy being on the plane, train, or in the car, there are times when tiredness or hunger will cause issues while traveling. Pack snacks, books, and quiet toys to help keep your child distracted and calm while waiting at the airport or train station. While travel is disruptive to everyone’s schedule, try to help your child stick to their usual nap times as much as possible.

Be patient

While these tips can help you reduce your holiday travel stress, a perfect journey is rare. When traveling as a family, there are many issues of comfort, behavior, and logistics to try and manage. With so many others traveling for the holiday season, delays and unexpected issues will arise. Remember to be patient and breathe, and try to work together as a family to get to your destination. Soon enough, you will be with family and friends enjoying some well-earned holiday fun.

 

KLA Elementary School students participate in The Underline groundbreaking event

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KLA Elementary School students participate in The Underline groundbreaking event

Our now second graders were able to be part of The Underline groundbreaking event! The Underline will be a 10-mile neighborhood park in Miami-Dade County. Our KLA Elementary School students have been involved with this project since they were in kindergarten and it has served as inspiration for research and exploration in their class. 

They shared ideas on what to build to make this new addition to our community a fun one and even designed spaces for it! They also had an opportunity to talk to Francis Suarez, Mayor of Miami. KLA Elementary is excited to witness the actual transformation of this important part of our city!

 

KLA Schools makes this year’s Top 200+ ranking from “Franchise Times”

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Franchise Times Top 200 plus

KLA Schools made the Top 200+ “Franchise Times” ranking at No. 469, climbing 16 spots from last year’s rankings. The 500 largest U.S.- based franchisors were ranked in this annual exclusive ranking. This has been another strong year for KLA Schools as a franchisor, opening two new franchise schools in South Florida, one in Alabama and there are four more franchise schools projected to open in 2019.

“It is an honor for KLA Schools to be once again recognized as a strong franchisor. We continue to work hard to provide the best support service for our franchisees and to look for the best franchisees to join the KLA Schools family,” said Roberto Ortega, founder and president of KLA Schools. “KLA Schools continues to grow within the U.S. and as a world class preschool franchise organization our goal is to offer our progressive approach to early childhood education to as many U.S. markets as possible.”

Currently, there are 20 KLA Schools franchises within the U.S. Four more will open in 2019 in Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Florida.

View as a PDF.

The Franchise Times Top 200+® is the only ranking by systemwide sales and units of the largest 500 U.S.-based franchise brands. Published in the October issue and available in a searchable database online, the Franchise Times Top 200+ also analyzes industry sectors based on percentage change in sales growth, reports the 10 fastest growing franchises by four different measures, and includes exclusive news stories about the biggest names in franchising. The rankings and full report, and the searchable online database, are available at www.franchisetimes.com.

Age-Appropriate Halloween Activities for Children

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Age-Appropriate Halloween Activities for Children

Halloween can be a fun time for many children and adults. However, some children may be too young to participate in traditional Halloween activities, while others may be too frightened or overwhelmed. Here are some age-appropriate Halloween activities for children that the whole family can enjoy.

Watch Halloween movies and books

There are many great, family-friendly Halloween movies and books available that help a child understand Halloween without being confused or scared. For example, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a classic movie that, while it does show children dressed up as ghosts and skeletons, is not scary overall. Some top-rated Halloween books for preschoolers include Room on the Broom, Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete, and The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat.

Host a Halloween party

If your child is too young to go trick-or-treating, they can still participate in Halloween festivities at a Halloween party. Invite your child’s friends and neighbors, and have fun with crafts such as painting or creating paper masks. If you’re concerned about your child’s sugar intake, you can offer healthier Halloween snacks such as “boonanas” – bananas cut in half, with chocolate chips used to represent eyes and a mouth.

Try trick-or-treating in different ways

Many parents of young children want their child to go trick-or-treating, but are concerned about them getting frightened by the costumes and decorations they might see. To ensure your child can trick-or-treat in an age-appropriate way, you can organize a night of bringing them to friends’, neighbors’ or relatives’ houses where you know what to expect. Many community centers and shopping malls host child-friendly Halloween events where your young child can trick-or-treat without getting too frightened.

Attend fall-related events

While not strictly Halloween-focused, local fall events are an ideal way to help your child get into the spirit of the season in a way that they can understand and handle. Consider events such as hay wagon rides, apple picking, and corn mazes. If you happen to encounter any Halloween-themed decorations or events along the way, you can discuss them with your child so they can begin to understand the concept of Halloween.

Toddlers and preschoolers love to dress up and receive delicious treats, but they may be too young to properly understand the scarier themes and imagery of Halloween. However, by seeking out age-appropriate Halloween movies, books, crafts, and events, you can help your young child have fun without the fear.

How to Integrate a Pet Into Your Family

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How to Integrate a Pet Into Your Family

Whether you are adopting an adult animal or bringing home a new puppy or kitten, there are several things to keep in mind in order to help your pet feel comfortable and safe.

Discuss a schedule and rules

Your child may be most excited to play with your family’s new pet, but it’s important to have a family discussion about how life will change. Discuss a feeding and walking schedule, and ensure your child knows the appropriate safety rules for animals. If your child is old enough, they can help with tasks such as feeding the family pet. According to a study by Brown University School of Medicine, household chores such as this can give your child higher persistence and increased levels of emotional wellbeing and happiness.

Prepare in advance

Before you bring your new family member home, ensure that they have everything they need. You can get your child involved by bringing them to the pet store to help choose items such as a collar, leash, bed, and food. This can also be an ideal opportunity to help teach your child that taking care of a pet is an important responsibility. As well, you and your child can help ensure that your home and yard are safe for your new pet.

Bring your new pet home quietly

While your entire family will be excited, it’s important to not overwhelm your new pet. If you are adopting a dog, introduce it to the family outside, and one at a time. Let it tour its new home on-leash. Cats may be very reluctant to greet new people, so encourage your child to be patient and let the cat approach them when it feels ready. Ensure your child does not grab your pet’s face, ears, or tail. For both cats and dogs, ensure there is a safe and quiet space your pet can retreat to if it wants a break, and limit visitors for the first few days.

Teach your child patience

Even though you have already explained to your child how to safely approach and play with the new family pet, excitement may take over once your new family member is in your home. It’s important to monitor your child and pet closely, and watch for signs of stress in the animal, and ensure that your child is calm and gentle. Getting your child involved with the new pet indirectly, such as taking the dog for a family walk or creating a homemade cat toy, can help to satisfy your child’s excitement while giving your pet more time to adjust.

Show empathy for your pet

Having a new pet is exciting for everyone, but it is also important to model empathy to your child. Being able to feel empathy is an important foundation for strong relationships, conflict resolution, gratitude, and ethical behavior. Demonstrate respect for your new pet’s personal space and items such as its bed or food area. Let your child see you approaching and speaking to the pet appropriately. If you are training your new pet, show your child that behavior setbacks are only temporary, and try again. You can also have discussions with your child about how confusing it is for your pet to enter a strange home, and come up with ways you can help – particularly if you have adopted your new pet from a rescue organization.

The benefits of a family pet for a child are numerous – studies have shown that a pet can help a child learn, reduce anxiety, practice caregiving, and build family bonds. With our tips, you can help your child play an important role in welcoming your new pet into the family.

KLA Schools at the 2018 Miami Schools Fair

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Candelaria Ortega

KLA Schools will participate in this year’s Miami Schools Fair. Our founder, Candelaria Ortega, will be one of the speakers at the “Rethinking Education in a changing world” panel from 11:45 am – 12:15 pm.

This is a great opportunity for parents to discover school options in Miami and for school representatives to join the conversation and meet prospective parents.

Visit our booth to learn more about KLA Schools and KLA Elementary.

This is a free community event sponsored by Mercy Hospital. To register go to www.miamischoolsfair.com.

When: Saturday, October 20, 2018
Time: 9:00am – 1:00pm
Where: Mercy Hospital

We hope to see you there!

Tips for Reading to Your Child

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Tips for Reading to Your Child

Developing a love of reading is key in helping your child learn valuable skills and can lead to improved performance in school. Spending time with books at home is an important way to help your child learn to love reading. Here are some tips for reading to your child.

Set age-appropriate standards

A toddler is unlikely to sit still for a long story, while a school-age child may be more patient. However, if your young child acts distracted or moves away, they may still be listening if you keep reading. It’s important to gauge the attention span of your child and work within the times they are most likely to be engaged. Stop reading if your child is obviously not interested, and try again later.

Develop a reading routine

If your child’s age and attention span allow it, reading to them at the same time each day can form an important part of their daily routine. Not only will they be able to look forward to it, but it can help to form a bond with you and your child.

Don’t always stick to the text

Even if your child has their favorite book memorized, it can be fun to stray from the text and improvise, or create your own version of the story based on the pictures. Ask questions about the story, why your child thinks the character feels or acts the way they do, and what your child thinks they’ll do next. This will help your child develop skills such as empathy and problem-solving.

Point to the pictures

Depending on how well your child can already read, they may not necessarily be able to connect the story to the illustrations they see on the page. Pointing to the pictures as you read will not only help your child understand the story, but it will also help them to understand the connection between words and images.

Read in a livelier voice

Though some parents naturally read to their children with different voices for each character, others may not feel so comfortable doing so. However, changing something as small as your inflection as you read will help hold your child’s interest and draw them into the story.

Form connections to your child’s experiences

If you and your child are reading a story about a construction site, you can relate it to the new house that’s being built at the end of your street. If you’re reading a book about the zoo, ask your child about their favorite animals. Forming connections between a book and your child’s life will help them to feel more engaged and interested.

When it comes to developing your young child’s reading skills, you can help make it fun for your child and create positive, lasting memories they will carry with them throughout their life.

Why we shouldn’t force children to apologize

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Why we shouldn’t force children to apologize

Teaching our children to apologize and say sorry may seem like common sense parenting. However, simply forcing a child to say “I’m sorry” doesn’t teach the desired skill which is the development of empathy.

Sometimes children are forced to apologize without a true understanding of the nature of an apology. When we force children to say “I’m sorry” we’re not teaching them the meaning of those words, much less helping them to understand and feel empathy for others.

The foundation of an apology is empathy. An apology is most appropriate when we are able to take into consideration the other person’s feelings.

In many cases, children learn to say “I’m sorry” as a way to avoid being punished. Children are still learning to identify their own emotions and are apologizing solely to avoid a negative consequence from adults.

We shouldn’t force children to apologize, as they would be asked to say something without truly understanding its meaning. As adults, we have to defend the rights of our children and respect their own pace.

It’s important for children to understand the power of an apology, as it is related to the consequences of their actions and how those actions impacted the other person. What we really want is for our children to create a sense of awareness and for them to be ready to say this word when they understand its meaning.

Eventually, children will create powerful connections where they will be able to gradually build their concept of empathy and learn the value of an apology through respect and love.

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

Follow Raquel’s personal blog on WordPress, Twitter, and on Facebook.

Fun and Educational Fall Outdoor Activities for Children

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Fun and Educational Fall Outdoor Activities for Children

Fall is here, and whether that means crunching through leaves or a slightly cooler day at the beach, there are many fun and educational activities your child can do outdoors. Here are some family-friendly educational outdoor activities for children.

  • Go on a nature walk. Fall can be an ideal time for your child to learn more about nature. You can go on a family walk to collect fallen leaves, spot migratory birds, or notice any changes in flowers and plants.
  • Visit a farm or orchard. Autumn is a time of harvest, and by visiting your local farm or apple orchard, your child can get a better sense of the seasonality of food. Not only do many farms and orchards offer family-friendly activities such as tractor rides and apple-picking, but your child can learn about the life cycle of fruits and vegetables as well.
  • Plant a fall garden. Spring and summer may be the most popular times for gardening, but you can get your young child involved with an autumn garden, too. Have your child help you plant fall-friendly vegetables such as spinach, radishes, carrots, and kale. This is another way for your child to learn about food seasonality, and they will also develop fine and gross motor skills.
  • Make an autumn sensory bin. The end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of outdoor sensory bin play. Leaves, twigs, stones, soil, small gourds, and dried corn can make an ideal addition to your sensory bin. As your young child sorts, scoops, pours, and mixes, they’ll explore and learn while using their senses.
  • Hold a scavenger hunt. Ideal for a small group of children, an autumn-themed scavenger hunt can include items like orange leaves, green leaves, pinecones, stones, and flowers.
  • Become tree detectives. The changing color of leaves is a classic fall image, but your child can also learn about the entire tree. As a family, examine the autumn trees in your neighborhood. How are the leaves changing? What does the bark look like? What does it smell like? Are the twigs soft or strong? You can bring a notebook to write or draw what you discover.
  • Make a leaf maze. Many of us have fond childhood memories of playing in a pile of freshly-raked leaves. However, your child can have fun with fall leaves while also engaging their problem-solving skills. If you have a large amount of leaves to rake, you can create a small leaf maze for your child to walk through, and allow them to figure out the correct pathways on their own.
  • Paint outdoors. Summer may be over, but chances are the weather is still good enough to paint outdoors. You may want to offer your child paint colors in an autumn hue, or ask your child to paint their favorite thing to do in the fall.

With these fun and educational fall outdoor activities for children, the whole family can take advantage of the cooler autumn days.

The Importance of Art for Young Children

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The Importance of Art for Young Children

Many parents have witnessed their child’s natural eagerness to draw, paint, or construct. You have most likely encouraged your child to do so, whether it’s a rainy-day indoor activity or out of a desire to display your child’s artwork. As a parent, you know that children love to express themselves visually, but there are a host of cognitive and social benefits for your child as well.

Here are some of the benefits that art gives to young children:

Development of motor skills

When your child is coloring with a crayon, threading a string through a bead, or cutting out construction paper, they are developing fine motor skills. When your child is drawing with sidewalk chalk outdoors or painting on a large easel, they are building gross motor skills. Art also helps children to develop hand-eye coordination. Developing these skills will assist your child with many things as they grow, including writing with a pen or pencil, buttoning up shirts, and tying shoelaces.

Cognitive development

When your child creates a colorful drawing of the family pet or a handprint painting at preschool, they are practicing critical skills that will boost their cognitive development. According to Americans for the Arts, art strengthens skills such as problem-solving skills and critical thinking. For example, if your child wants to draw a picture of a tree, they will first visualize how they want their tree to look. Then, they will select the correct tools such as crayons, pencils, or paint to execute their idea. If they encounter a problem such as a broken crayon, they then explore solutions to this problem. Finally, they can evaluate their drawing, and perhaps add embellishments to it as a result of their analysis.

Social and emotional skills

As illustrated in the above example, the simple act of drawing a picture involves many opportunities for independent decisions and choices. Being able to make these decisions can strengthen your child’s confidence and self-esteem. Children can also express themselves through art in a period when their language skills may not be adequate.

In a classroom environment, they can also practice receiving feedback from teachers, and working together with classmates on a project. In a 1994 article in Phi Delta Kappan, Craig R. Sautter suggests that feedback children give to each other on art projects can help them learn to accept criticism and praise from others.

If you would like to increase your child’s exposure to art, speak with their preschool or elementary school teacher to see what programs the school has available. At KLA Schools, our schools have an Atelier, which is “art studio” in French. Our Ateliers are welcoming and inspiring places where a wide variety of natural and man-made materials are visually available to explore. Here, children of all ages come individually or in small groups to encounter experiences with different media that will progressively support all their languages of expression. The early exploration of the visual arts through materials such as clay, paper, fabric, wire, light, beads, shells, leaves and wood, among others, offer children endless possibilities.

No matter whether your child builds a sculpture with clay, creates a quick drawing at home, or produces a large painting in collaboration with classmates, they are learning vital physical, emotional, and cognitive skills that they will use for the rest of their life.

School-Year Safety Tips

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School-Year Safety Tips

The end of summer can be a hectic time, with families returning from holidays and children going back to school. Before new school-year routines become habit, it’s important to identify key areas where you can help keep your entire family safe and healthy. Here are some school-year safety tips you can begin implementing right away.

Walking to school safety tips

  • Walk your child to school (or make alternate arrangements) if you feel they don’t have the necessary skills to walk alone, or are younger than 10.
  • Ensure your child is very familiar with the route to and from school, and that they don’t take shortcuts.
  • Teach your child proper safety for crossing the street: stopping, looking both ways, and only crossing at proper intersections.
  • Make sure your child obeys any crossing guards on their route.
  • If there is no sidewalk on your route, ensure your child knows to walk facing traffic so that they can see cars coming.
  • Try to dress your child in bright colors or lighter shades so that they are extra visible to drivers.
  • Walking to school with other children can help increase your child’s safety.
  • Teach your child never to talk to strangers, approach their car, or accept rides. Many families implement a password system to ensure that their child can identify trusted adults.
  • However, in certain emergency situations, talking to a stranger may be necessary. Help your child identify “safe” adults, such as uniformed police officers, other parents, or crossing guards.

Driving to school safety tips

  • Your child may have hit a growth spurt over the summer, so double-check that they are still using the appropriate car seat or booster seat.
  • Enact a rule that the car doesn’t move until everyone has their seat belt buckled.
  • Ensure that your child enters and exits the car on the curb side of the street, or assist your child if they need to enter and exit on the traffic side.
  • Pick up and drop off your child as close to their school as possible. When dropping them off, ensure they are inside the schoolyard or building before you leave.
  • Be aware of school zone speed limits, and watch out for children who may dart out from between parked cars. Be prepared to stop suddenly if necessary.

Riding the school bus safety tips

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly two-thirds of school-age children who were fatally injured in school transportation-related crashes were struck by vehicles while getting off their school bus. The NHTSA recommends you teach your child the “SAFE” acronym, which stands for:

  • 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.

Safety tips at school

The following tips will help to keep your child healthy and safe once they have arrived at school.

  • Don’t label your child’s clothing or backpack with their name in a visible location.
  • Depending on the age of your child, ensure they know their full name, their address, your full name, and how to reach you. It can also be useful for them to know the name and contact info of a trusted neighbor or family member.
  • 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.
  • If possible, inspect the playground facilities at your child’s school. Ensure that there are no areas where your child could trip, get cut, hit their head, fall, or play unsupervised.
  • Teach your child the basics of playground safety, such as no running while on the equipment, ensuring they hold on to any hand or guardrails, and to watch out for other children.
  • Dress your child appropriately for the weather conditions. This may involve sending an extra sweater or rain boots to school with your child.
  • If your child’s school doesn’t provide access to a refrigerator, ensure that any packed lunches or snacks will not spoil during the day.

For more school-year safety tips, speak with your child’s teachers to get advice and useful tips on helping to keep your child safe and healthy.

Getting Your Child Involved in Community Projects

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Getting Your Child Involved in Community Projects

Many parents want to help their children understand that we are all different and can co-exist peacefully. One way to demonstrate compassion for your area’s variety of people, values, and ways of thinking is to help your child get involved in community projects. Even very young children can learn to help others and engage with the people in their communities. Here are some ways you can help your child get involved.

Start with neighbors

The community members that your child is likely the most familiar with are your close neighbors, whether it’s the family next door or the babysitter at the end of the block. Finding ways to help these familiar neighbors can be an easy introduction to community service, especially if your child is shy around people they don’t know. Perhaps your preschooler would like to draw a card for their sick babysitter, or offer to share some toys with the children next door. You can help your child understand the importance of their actions by saying things such as, “It’s so nice that you wanted to give them your toy trucks. You know they’ll be very happy to play with them.”

Clean up

Beautifying your neighborhood doesn’t have to be reserved for large community efforts. In fact, picking up litter or recycling in your neighborhood is a quick way to show your child how easy it is to be considerate of others. The next time you’re out at the playground or walking to school, keep an eye out for cans, food containers, and other litter that you can pick up and discard properly. You can even organize a small group of friends and neighbors to spend an hour filing garbage and recycling bags. Be sure to give your child appropriate gloves to wear, and let them know what is safe to touch and what they should leave for adults to pick up.

Donate toys, clothes, and games

Encouraging your child to donate toys, clothes, and games that they no longer want or use is an ideal way to teach them gratitude. Explain to your child that some children don’t have as many clothes or toys as they do, and ask if they can find some items to donate. Let your child give as much as they like – even one toy and one piece of clothing will teach them generosity. Take your child with you when you drop these items off at the charity, shelter, or secondhand store, so they will gain a better understanding of the immediate benefits of their charitable actions.

Write letters

Many children have a unique talent for identifying issues in their communities, and how they can be fixed. While encouraging this sort of problem-solving is good, you can help your child take their beliefs one step further by helping them write a letter to the appropriate official about the issue. For example, if your child notices that a portion of the sidewalk in front of the local library is damaged and elderly people are having trouble navigating it, you can help them by finding the appropriate contact information for that civic department. Then, you can write a letter on behalf of your child, or have the child write the letter themselves if they are old enough. While the act of writing to government officials is often reserved for adults, having your child involved in the process will help them feel that they truly can make a difference in their community.

Volunteer with child-friendly organizations

Many charity and volunteer organizations encourage families to take part together. For example, your family can harvest plants or feed animals at a local farm, serve food at a homeless shelter, or sort donations at the food bank. Some organizations allow older children to volunteer on their own, with younger children being accompanied by a parent or guardian. Other organizations have specific activities for younger children, such as creating cards to include in food hampers.

Team up with your child’s school

Many preschools and elementary schools offer community service as a core feature of their curriculum. Investigate the options available at your child’s school, and ask teachers for any tips and advice they may have about helping your child get more involved outside of school-led initiatives.

Helping your child give back to their community is something you can begin encouraging at an early age. This will help your child develop empathy, confidence, and gratitude, as well as create lasting memories for the whole family.

Helping our children to transition into a new school year

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Helping our children to transition into a new school year

The first day of a new school, or even the first day in a new classroom, it is typical to feel a mixture of emotions, not only for children but for parents as well. There are many emotions involved during this period of transition, where children encounter new environments, new friends, and a new daily rhythm.

These are some recommendations that will help you and your child during this process:

  • Read books about the first day of school:Storybook characters are often relatable to children, so reading books about starting school can help children get a better sense of what preschool is like (if it’s their first time). This can also be helpful for returning students who may be nervous about going back after a vacation.
  • Describe how a typical preschool day will be: Even if you don’t know what the preschool’s exact schedule will be, give your child clues on what will likely take place. Some typical scenarios include: explore and create with paint, clay, and/or sand, building with blocks, eating snack, playing in the playground, etc. Tell him that he will be away from you for a little while, but you will return to pick him up. Build excitement about preschool by telling him about all the new friends and teachers he’ll meet, the different experiences and materials he will use, and all the fun things he will do. Be sure to draw similarities to parts of your day as well. This will provide a feeling of comfort as your child will be able to visualize what this part of the day looks like.
  • Visit the preschool with your child before his first day. It is very meaningful for children when they visit the school with their parents for the first time; parents are like a bridge between home and the school. When children feel that their parents or companions are present and calm, they feel more relaxed and have a greater disposition towards new experiences.
  • Take pictures of the school, show them to him a few times before school starts. You could also make an event out of buying his school uniform or lunch box that he will use.
  • Create a smooth routine for your child: Children are at their best when they have plenty of rest, eat a nutritious breakfast and don’t feel rushed. It is important to avoid introducing new things into the routine during this period, for example: moving, vacations.
  • It is very important to always anticipate what is going to happen next: For example: “I am going to work and I will come back” or “I’ll go to the supermarket and I will bring you a banana”. Ideally, try not to have long journeys in terms of time periods and always when you come to pick them up. Try saying: “I am here, remember that I told you that I was going to come back to get you?… I went to the supermarket, I bought bananas and then I came for you.”
  • Describe or put in words what your child might be feeling: “It seems that you are very happy; you are laughing so much”, “It seems that you are sad, you’re crying because I’m leaving, but I will come to pick you up”. Be patient and let your child express their emotions, take advantage of each opportunity and express with an appropriate vocabulary the way that you feel as well.
  • Remember to always say good-bye and keep the promises that you made: This way your child will start building the concept of trust and faith in people, beginning with his most significant people. Avoid sneaking out without saying good-bye or saying that you will do something that you won’t do.
  • Let your child take a small transitional object to school.Maybe a note from you, a family picture, a stuffed animal or a blanky. This will make them feel comfortable, having a familiar and meaningful object with them during this transition period.
  • Have open communication with your child’s teachers: Share with them different relevant aspects that are happening at home and in their routine (if your child uses a pacifier, if they suffer from any allergies, etc.), as well as any changes of routine (trips, pregnancy, moving, family members visiting, etc).
  • It is important to be very flexible and understanding with your child during moments of transition; this is a great change in their lives.
  • Enjoy this experience and live one day at a time: Give you and your child time to adjust to this new routine and embrace the beautiful memories and experiences that school will bring.
  • Last but not least, give them lots of love and be patient at this stage, it is a big change in children’s lives and they need a lot of understanding. If we have to have faith in them and provide them support you will both make it!

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

Follow Raquel’s personal blog on WordPress, Twitter, and on Facebook.

Books to Help Your Child Learn About Letters

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Books to Help Your Child Learn About Letters

As your young child begins to develop their language skills, you may find that they become very interested in books. Children enjoy looking at books and being read to, and many often try to follow along and make sense of the letters. As they build new vocabulary, toddlers and preschoolers want to create their own stories.

Here are some books that you can read together to help teach your young child about letters.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

Age Range: 1 – 4 years

This book has been a family favorite for over 20 years, presenting a simple and fun story with an engaging rhyming style that children will enjoy. The images are colorful, with the letters standing out to help your child recognize them easily.

Animal Alphabet: Slide and Seek the ABCs by Alex A. Lluch

Age Range: 2 – 6 years

Children love animals, and this board book is ideal to help them learn about animals as well as letters. An animal is shown for each letter of the alphabet, with panels that your child can slide to reveal each associated animal. This interaction can help your child make the connection between letters and words they may already know.

Alphabet Rescue by Audrey Wood

Age Range: 3 – 5 years

In this book, the characters of the story are the letters of the alphabet. When Charley visits his grandparents, the lowercase letters from his alphabet travel to Alphabet City to have an adventure with the uppercase letters. This book can not only help your child learn the difference between lowercase and uppercase letters, but the story will help them to make a visual connection between the letters of the alphabet.

Letter Tracing for Preschoolers by S Mallory

Age Range: 3 – 5 years

For more hands-on learning, this book provides opportunities for your preschooler to trace uppercase and lowercase letter shapes. There are many tracing outlines provided so your child can practice as often as they like, and each section offers a visual connection as well, showing your child which recognizable object begins with each letter. Not only will this book help your child learn the alphabet, it will also help them to develop their fine motor skills.

Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss

Age Range: 3 – 7 years

Another classic children’s book, Dr. Seuss’ ABC not only entertains young children with its whimsical drawings and rhymes, but it encourages them to try reading on their own. They develop letter and sound associations, and frequent repetition of these letters and sounds can help them to remember these associations.

According to research, reading aloud to children is likely the most important factor to help them successfully build essential skills and understanding of reading. Additionally, demonstrating how the printed word corresponds to oral speech is a key factor in developing word awareness in young children. Reading with your child, discussing the story, and asking questions can all help to improve your child’s vocabulary and their understanding of the alphabet. These are just some of the many books available that can help your child learn about letters.

Helping Your Child Adjust to Back-to-School

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Helping Your Child Adjust to Back-to-School

Whether your young child is attending preschool for the first time or returning to preschool or elementary school, the transition from summer to school involves many considerations. Here are some ways you can help your child have an easier adjustment period.

Get into a routine

The first few days of school are an ideal time to ease your child into their new routines. For example, you can create your school-days morning routine with small adjustments such as eating breakfast together at the same time each morning. Following a predictable routine will remove one area of worry from your child’s life, allowing them to focus on other components of their new school life with greater ease.

Practice

If a school-days routine is unfamiliar to your child, practicing can help. Together, you can do things such as walk or drive the route to school and back, pack their backpack, and prepare packed lunches or snacks. If your child is nervous about school, this can help them to familiarize themselves with the process and reduce their anxiety.

This practice period doesn’t have to end after the first day. Your child may need a longer adjustment period than you may imagine. Have open and honest conversations with your child in the first few weeks of school, and find ways  you can help to make their new routine easier.

Read back-to-school books

Another way to help your child ease their back-to-school nerves is by reading books. There are many good back-to-school books for children of all ages, which show them what to expect, and help them feel that the new school environment doesn’t have to be scary. When reading these books, discuss how your child is feeling, and respectfully and calmly address any fears they may have.

Team up with other parents

If you know other parents whose children will be joining your child at their school, arranging a playdate can be a good way to help with the back-to-school transition. If your child already has friends in their class, you can even hold a back-to-school party to celebrate the start of another school year. By meeting and interacting with other children, your child may feel less scared about who they will play with or talk to in the first few days of school. As the days go by and your child makes new friends, be sure to include these children in regular playdates as well. This will help your child solidify their new friendships.

Be patient

Even if your child is excited for school, it is still a major adjustment. Give your child time to adjust, even if it takes several weeks. During this adjustment period, remain positive and supportive. Discuss your child’s feelings and listen to their concerns. You may want to ask your child’s teacher for tips on how you can make the transition period easier. Here are some other ways you can help your child adjust to going back to school.

The transition to school is an important event for any child, and one that comes with many emotions. However, with these tips, you can help your child get ready for back-to-school and make the adjustment period easier in the initial weeks of the school year.

7 Dramatic Play Ideas for Preschoolers

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7 Dramatic Play Ideas for Preschoolers

Play is more than just entertainment for preschoolers. Through play, young children develop important language, problem-solving, cooperation, math, and fine and gross motor skills. These seven dramatic play ideas for preschoolers provide ample opportunities for your child to learn and have fun at the same time.

Library Pretend Play

For a basic pretend library setup, all you will need is a few of the books you have in your home already. Your child can pretend to be the librarian or a library patron, and you can set up a desk where the “librarian” will work. To enhance the play, you can create your own library cards, book return bins, and return cards for each book. The library patron can ask the librarian questions about the books, and the librarian can help the patron find books, check the books out, and even help to shelve them.

Grocery Store Pretend Play

As with the library pretend play idea, playing grocery store can be done using items you already have in your home. Clear out a couple of shelves and use them to display pantry items such as cans of soup, and boxes of cereal and pasta, as well as fruit, vegetables, and bread. You can label each item with a price, or create signage for different sections of the store. Create money for your child to use that is simple to read and understand. Your child can shop in the grocery store with a shopping bag, and pay for their items with their money. As the cashier, you can help your child count their money and give them change.

Veterinarian Pretend Play

This pretend play idea can also be done with items your preschooler already owns – in this case, their stuffed animals. Pretend that one of the pets is sick or injured, and your child is the veterinarian who is caring for the animal. You can set up an examination table and a little bed for the animal to recover in. You may want to use or create other props such as a toy stethoscope, a bottle for medicine, bandages, and a thermometer. If your family has a pet, this is an ideal opportunity for your child to understand what happens when they’re sick or injured. All children will learn empathy and kindness to animals with this veterinarian pretend play.

Restaurant Pretend Play

Turn mealtimes into educational fun by playing restaurant. This idea is best with simple meals, such as sandwiches. You can help your child prepare the meal as the chef, and you and your child can play restaurant customer and server. The server will show the customer to the table, take their order, bring their food, and give them the bill at the end of the meal. You can also set up your dining room as a restaurant with menus on the table. Not only is this pretend play idea a fun way to enjoy a meal, it can also help your child practice their table manners and restaurant etiquette skills.

Dinosaur Dig Pretend Play

If your preschooler loves dinosaurs, they will enjoy the chance to become an paleontologist in this pretend play idea. If you have a sandbox at home, this is an ideal location for the dig site. Otherwise, you can use a sensory bin or other shallow bin. You can use inexpensive plastic dinosaur toys or fossil skeleton toys, and bury them in a layer of sand, soil, or even coffee grounds. Your child can dig with toy shovels and, once they have excavated a dinosaur, they can use a paintbrush to carefully brush the dirt away. They can take a closer look at their finds with a magnifying glass. This pretend play idea will give your child a better understanding of the work that people such as paleontologists and archeologists do, and help them develop their problem-solving and fine motor skills.

Preschool Pretend Play

When it comes to pretend play ideas, children may often find it easier to return to familiar scenarios. By playing preschool, your child can imagine what it’s like to be a teacher rather than a student. This is a good pretend play idea for several children, where each child takes turns being the teacher. The teacher can tell stories to the students, sing songs, draw pictures, and build with blocks. You’ll need simple items such as paper, crayons, books, and toys. This may also be a unique opportunity for you to discover your child’s feelings about their experiences at their preschool.

Storybook Pretend Play

If your preschooler has a favorite book or fairy tale, they will likely enjoy making it come to life through make-believe. For this activity, you may need to create specific props or costumes. However, using minimal props and costumes may further increase your child’s own imagination. For example, perhaps your preschooler thinks Little Red Riding Hood should have a sister called Little Green Riding Hood. Encourage your child to perform their favorite story in new ways, and help them to develop their confidence and creativity.

Playing pretend and make-believe are important ways for preschoolers to learn valuable life skills. With these seven dramatic play ideas, you and your preschooler can have fun together while they develop these skills.

Back-to-School Books for Children

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Back-to-School Books for Children

While it may seem as if summer vacation is endless, it’s time for many families across America are to prepare for back-to-school. Whether it’s your child’s first time going to school or not, there are several entertaining books available to help them make the transition. Enjoy reading these books with your child, and take time to discuss their feelings as you do so.

The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing

We can all remember how difficult it was to sleep the night before our first day back at school. With colorful images and engaging rhyming text, The Night Before Preschool tells the story of a little boy who’s shy and nervous about preschool. However, as his first day of preschool goes by, he realizes that it’s a fun place to be.

This is one of a series of books which includes other titles such as The Night Before Kindergarten and The Night Before First Grade.

Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten by Candice Ransom

Amanda Panda is excited to start kindergarten, and visualizes how perfectly her first day will go. However, all of her big plans don’t work out the way she planned, and she meets another girl who persistently tries to be her friend. Amanda decides to quit kindergarten and join her older brother in his second grade classroom. Here, she realizes that second grade isn’t right for her, and she returns to kindergarten to try again and make new friends.

The Berenstain Bears Go to School by Stan and Jan Berenstain

This classic book shows the first day of school through the eyes of Sister Bear, who is nervous about starting kindergarten. She visits the school before the first day and meets her new teacher, takes the bus with other nervous children, and slowly begins to enjoy herself as her day full of stories, playtime, and new experiences unfolds.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Chester Raccoon is nervous about starting school, and wants to stay in his familiar home instead. To help him feel better about the transition, Mrs Raccoon tells him about all the fun things he will do at school, including making new friends, reading new books, and playing with new toys. She helps him feel more secure with a family secret called the Kissing Hand, which will help Chester feel connected to her if he gets scared.

School’s First Day of School by Christian Robinson

In this unique book, the story of the first day is told from the perspective of the school. Frederick Douglass Elementary is a brand-new school who is nervous about all of the new children, and what to expect. In this story, the school feels the anxiety of the children at the beginning, but they all eventually begin to have fun. This interesting story will allow children to understand that everyone feels back-to-school jitters, but they eventually go away.

These five back-to-school books are ideal ways to help your child understand any nervous or scared feelings they may be having about their first day. They will also give your child examples of what they can expect in school, which can help to relieve their fears. With these books, you can help your child get prepared and excited for their first day of school.

Punishments and consequences are not the same

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Punishments and consequences are not the same
  • It is important that as our children grow up, they become aware that all of their actions have consequences, so that from early on they assume responsibility for each of their actions.
  • A consequence is not the same as a punishment. A consequence is something that happens as a result of a particular action. For example, forgetting the umbrella at home on a rainy day may result in you getting wet for not bringing an umbrella. If a child forgets his jacket at home, the consequence will be that he will not be able to use his jacket at school.
  • On the other hand, a punishment would be something like a teacher making a child write over and over again “I must not forget my things.” Additional examples of punishments may include: asking the child to sit in a corner for having forgotten the jacket, or asking his parents to give the jacket away since he forgot it in the first place (and they want their child to learn a lesson).
  • Punishment is not a consequence; it is a premeditated strategy to avoid a behavior. It is imposed by adults to usually obtain an immediate result; not because a child has understood the lesson, but because fear is being used.
  • One way to teach our children about the consequences of their actions is to allow them to experience and see for themselves what happens or might happen after they have done something. Open questions can also be used to make them think about the way they feel, or how they think others feel about a specific behavior. This is a strategy for children to understand that everything has a consequence without the need to use punishments.
  • Consequences instead of punishments will make children understand what they did and anticipate what will happen if they repeat the same act. They can also decide whether they want to change what they did to obtain a different consequence, or repeat it and obtain the same result.

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

Follow Raquel’s personal blog on WordPress, Twitter, and on Facebook.

6 Summer Day Trip Ideas for Families

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6 Summer Day Trip Ideas for Families

Summer is an ideal time to create memories as a family. However, with our busy schedules and finances to consider, a long family vacation may not be the best choice. Here are six summer day trip ideas that are fun for everyone, and don’t involve spending money on overnight accommodation.

State or county fair

The state or county fair is a classic summer activity all across America. With games, rides, food, shopping, arts and crafts, agricultural events, and music, each member of your family can find something to enjoy. With some fairs offering discounted or free admission for children, and others boasting no admission fee at all, a day at the state or county fair can be a budget-friendly option for your family.

National park

National parks afford a unique opportunity for your child to learn about nature, wildlife, and America’s history. According to a recent study, more than 330 million people visited America’s over 400 national parks in 2017. Visit the National Parks Service’s Find a Park tool to discover a national park that would make an ideal day trip for your family.

Water park or beach

There is no better way to beat the heat than a day at a water park or beach. Depending on your budget and schedule, your family can enjoy a full day of water slides and wave pools at a large water park, or a few hours building sandcastles at a nearby beach or waterfront. As always, keep these water safety tips for children in mind.

To help you plan your water park visit, visit TripSavvy’s lists of biggest and best water parks in the Northeast, in the Southeast, in the South, and in the West.

Theme park

Though a day at a theme park may not seem very budget-friendly, for many families it is a good compromise compared to a week-long holiday with hotel and travel costs. Many theme parks offer rides and games specifically designed for younger children, with a slower pace, reduced noise, and shorter duration. Family-friendly theme park activities include teacup rides, mini coasters, splash pads, carousels, and scaled-down Ferris wheels.

Hiking

A family hike is an ideal way to enjoy the great outdoors this summer as well as help your child learn more about the natural world around them. Choose a location where you can take a short hike to view an interesting natural feature such as a scenic view, lake or historical site. Depending on the age of your child and whether or not a stroller is involved, you may need to remain on an easy paved or boardwalk trail. Pack an easy lunch and plenty of snacks and water, and enjoy your day together.

Museums

Whether it’s close to home or in a nearby town, there are many museums and historical sites that the whole family can get something out of. Museums offer children a unique opportunity to learn about history, develop curiosity, encourage problem-solving skills, and inspire new ideas. You may choose to spend the day at a museum specifically geared towards children, or share your own favorite exhibits with your child. For a successful museum visit, set behavior expectations before you go, and ensure all activities are appropriate to your child’s energy levels. It may also be a good idea to ask the museum, gallery, or historical site if they have any recommendations for visiting families.

No matter your budget or schedule, there are many day trips your family can enjoy this summer. With our six summer day trip ideas for families, everyone can have fun and create lasting memories.

Camping with Kids? Here’s What You Should Know

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Camping with Kids? Here's What You Should Know

Camping is a classic summer activity that the whole family can enjoy. Many parents of young children who enjoyed camping in the past may wonder how they can continue the activity with their child. Here are some things to keep in mind to help your camping experience run smoothly.

  • Research in advance. Spontaneous camping trips might have made sense before kids, but planning ahead will help you find a campsite that has all the features you need. This way, you can all focus on having fun. Visit Reserve America and gov to search for campsites near you.
  • Camp in the backyard first. It may not be as exciting as the woods, but doing a trial run in your backyard or a family member’s backyard can be useful. Your child can get a sense of what sleeping in a tent will be like, and you can figure out what you might need to tweak for the real thing.
  • Bring clothes for all weather. Even if the forecast calls for sunshine, you don’t want to be caught unprepared if the weather changes. Pack warm clothes for chillier evenings, and bring rain gear just in case.
  • Organize your supplies. Parents of young children know that meltdowns can happen fast, so be sure to organize your camping supplies well. Sort everything by categories, such as Clothes, Toys, Food, and Cooking, and label each container or bag well. Ensure that the most vital containers are the most easily accessible.
  • Keep clean. Many parents find it helpful to bring extra jugs of water, towels, and soap solely for hand and face-washing. If you have an infant or a small child, a plastic tub can serve for a quick bath. Antibacterial wipes are also a good idea for quick cleaning jobs, such as cleaning your child’s feet before climbing into the tent.
  • Teach camping safety. Before you leave, have a conversation with your child about the environment you’re visiting, and make sure they know the rules for keeping safe around campfires, wildlife, and water. Give them a whistle to wear around their neck in case you get separated. Additionally, you may want to bring some glow sticks or headlamps for your child to carry or wear at night.
  • Bulk up your first-aid kit. Some camping-specific items you may need include hand sanitizer, tweezers, antibiotic cream, bug spray, sunscreen, bandages, gauze, and medication for pain, allergies, and digestive issues.
  • Let your child bring comfort items. Camping is exciting, but many children can also find it overwhelming. It can help if your child brings a comfort item from home, such as a favorite book, blanket, or toy. Because camping can be full of activity, it’s best if this item isn’t irreplaceable.
  • Bring camp-friendly toys and games. Spending time in the great outdoors is an ideal opportunity for your child to enjoy fun and educational activities. Many family-oriented campsites have designated locations for games such as badminton and horseshoes, and you can bring card games, coloring books, sidewalk chalk, water toys, and binoculars. It’s also an ideal opportunity to help your child learn more about the outdoors.
  • Keep it simple at first. Many families make camping a yearly tradition, with elaborate meals and multiple activities. However, at the beginning, it’s best to take it easy. For your first few trips, cook simple meals and don’t overload your child with activities. Soon enough, your child will become accustomed to camping, and you can expand upon your activities. It may also be a good idea to save true wilderness camping until your child is older, until you have a better sense of what the experience will be like for them.

Camping as a family is an ideal opportunity to create lasting memories. With these tips, you can ensure that the experience will be fun and stress-free for everyone.