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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.

Spring-Themed Arts and Crafts

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Spring-Themed Arts and Crafts

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

Painted flower or plant pots

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

Tissue paper mosaic flowers

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

Rain painting

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

Find some rain painting ideas here.

Outdoor Bug Hotel

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

Learn how to make a Bug Hotel here.

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

How to Create Family Rules

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How to Create Family Rules

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

Get everyone on the same page

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

Be clear and realistic

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

Post rules in common family areas

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

Enforce consequences

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

Helping Your Child Manage Anger

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Helping Your Child Manage Anger

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

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

Teach your child about feelings

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

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

Model appropriate anger management

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

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

Teach anger coping skills

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

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

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

3 Recipes You Can Make With Your Child

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3 Recipes You Can Make With Your Child

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

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

English Muffin Pizzas

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

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

Pancake Poppers

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

Get the Pancake Poppers recipe here.

Kid-Friendly Baked Macaroni and Cheese

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

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

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

Books to Help Your Child Learn About Sharing

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Books to Help Your Child Learn About Sharing

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

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

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

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

The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner
Ages 3-5

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

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
Ages 3-5

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

Stone Soup
Ages 4-7

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

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

Helping Children Discuss Their Feelings

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Helping Children Discuss Their Feelings

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

Here are some tips to help children discuss their feelings.

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

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

Strategy Games for Young Children

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Strategy Games for Young Children

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

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

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
Ages 3+

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

My First Carcassone
Ages 4+

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

Ages 6+

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

Connect 4
Ages 6+

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

5 Healthy and Comforting Family Meals

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5 Healthy and Comforting Family Meals

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

Instant Pot Beef Stew

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

Get the Instant Pot beef stew recipe here.

Pancit Bihon

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

Get the pancit bihon recipe here.

Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash

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

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

Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet

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

Get the ground turkey sweet potato skillet recipe here.

Chicken and Bean Burritos

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

Get the chicken and bean burritos recipe here.

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

How Early Reading Helps Children

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How Early Reading Helps Children

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

Young children’s brains are developing rapidly

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

Reading is an ideal way to learn language skills

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

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

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

Early literacy helps with future education

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

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

The Importance of Early Childhood Education

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The Importance of Early Childhood Education

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

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

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

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

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

Tips for Reading to Toddlers

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Tips for Reading to Toddlers

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

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

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

Fun Ways to Teach Your Child About Money

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Fun Ways to Teach Your Child About Money

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

Play games involving imaginary money

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

Investigate kid-friendly educational money games online

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

Put your child in charge

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

Read books together

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

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

15 Indoor Activity Ideas for an Only Child

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15 Indoor Activity Ideas for an Only Child

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

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

Making Chores Fun for Children

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Making Chores Fun for Children

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

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

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

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

Holiday Crafts for Preschoolers

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Holiday Season Crafts for Preschoolers

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

Paper Snowflakes

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

Find ideas for paper snowflakes here.

Pinecone Christmas Trees

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

Find instructions for making pinecone Christmas trees here.

Handprint Christmas Tree

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

Find out how to make a handprint Christmas tree here.

Felt Dreidel Banner

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

Get instructions for making a felt dreidel banner here.

How to Transition Your Nursery

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How to Transition Your Nursery

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

1) Choose the right bed

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

2) Consider removing other furniture

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

3) Update the bedroom décor

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

4) Re-evaluate the new bedroom for safety

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

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

Moving? How to Help Your Child Adjust

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Moving? How to Help Your Child Adjust

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

Before the move

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

After the move

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

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

Grandparents and Babysitting

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Grandparents and Babysitting

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

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

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

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

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

Get everyone on the same page

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

Discuss your parenting philosophies

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

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

Self-Care Tips for Parents

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Self-Care Tips for Parents

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

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

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

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

At-Home Halloween Ideas

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At-Home Halloween Ideas

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

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

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

Quick School-Night Dinners

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4 Meals You Can Make With Your Child

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

Breakfast for Dinner

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

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

Chicken and Dumplings

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

Chicken Vegetable Ramen

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

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

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

Ideas to Teach Your Child About Space

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Ideas to Teach Your Child About Space

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

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

Read books about outer space

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

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

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

Make arts and crafts projects about space

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

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

Talk to your child’s teacher for more ideas

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

Helping Your Child Build Healthy Relationships

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Helping Your Child Build Healthy Relationships

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

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

Set – and enforce – boundaries

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

Respect your child’s own boundaries

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

Establish healthy communication

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

Teach empathy

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

Ensure your child sees healthy relationships in action

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

Managing Childhood Fears

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Managing Childhood Fears

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

Identifying the fear

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

Encourage openness

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

Validate their feelings

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

Ask questions

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

Help your child practice coping strategies

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

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

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

How Music Helps Children Learn

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How Music Helps Children Learn

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

Helps in language development

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

Increases spatial intelligence

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

Encourages greater working memory

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

Encourages creativity

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

Enables learning in other areas

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

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

Helping Your Child Learn to Write

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Helping Your Child Learn to Write

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

Provide the proper materials

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

Make writing fun

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

Involve your child in your own writing

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

Ask your child’s preschool teacher for help

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

Develop your child’s fine motor skills

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

Be patient and supportive

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

Ideas for Outdoor Learning

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Ideas for Outdoor Learning

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

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

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

Encouraging Children to Try New Things

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Encouraging Children to Try New Things

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

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

Discuss the issue with your child

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

Make a plan with your child

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

Help to develop their confidence and security

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

Let your child see you trying new things

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

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

How Families Can Get Involved in Preschool

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How Families Can Get Involved in Preschool

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

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

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

Join a parent committee

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

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

Participate in community outreach and events

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

Attend a parents’ night

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

Check in with your child’s teachers regularly

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

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

Safe Outdoor Activities for Families

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Safe Outdoor Activities for Families

While more and more places are opening up after quarantine lockdown, you may be wondering which activities are still safe for your family. Here are some safe outdoor activities for families to do while maintaining adequate physical distance.

Go for a walk

Whether you go for a walk around the block after dinner, or a family hike in the forest, walking is a very easy way to get some fresh air and exercise.

If you want to make your walk more interesting for young children, you can play I Spy, or encourage your child to look for birds, animals, and flowers as they walk. They can even collect items such as twigs, leaves, and stones as part of a mini scavenger hunt.

Ride bikes or scooters

A family bike ride is an ideal outdoor activity that’s also safe to do during the pandemic. As a family on bicycles, you may take up more space than if you were walking, and you may not have as many options when it comes to moving out of someone’s way to maintain social distance. With that in mind, consider going for a bike ride around the neighborhood when it’s not too busy with other families. Many cities also have temporarily closed some roads to car traffic to allow for people to walk or ride their bikes instead.

Visit the park

Many communities are reopening local parks, giving families a welcome opportunity to enjoy some summer weather together. However, because some park amenities such as restrooms and playgrounds may still be closed, prepare your child for what they can expect, and plan for a short visit. Also, be sure to pack hand sanitizer, water, and any personal protective equipment necessary.

Spend some time at the beach

The beach is a classic location for summer family fun. Many areas have fully reopened their beaches, while others have done so with restrictions. Before you head out for some fun in the sun, be sure to check what restrictions your beach has in place. For example, some beaches now allow fishing and swimming, but not sunbathing. Other beaches may have restricted hours. As with parks, it’s a good idea to bring your own hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment.

With more amenities opening back up after coronavirus quarantine, there are more options available for your family to have fun outdoors. As always, be sure to follow safety recommendations, and do your research before you head out to see if there are any updates you need to know.

The Importance of Schedules

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The Importance of Schedules

Coronavirus quarantine has made daily life feel very different for most of us.  But according to Dr. Peter Gorski of Harvard Medical School, knowing what to expect from daily life can develop a child’s confidence. A regular schedule can also reduce their stress and help them gain greater self-control.

A schedule is also critical for parents who are working from home during this time. Ensuring that your children’s needs are met is important, but a schedule will also help you manage your work responsibilities.

Here are some ways you can introduce a schedule into what may be a hectic time during quarantine.

Try to wake up, eat, and go to sleep at the same times

Sleeping and eating are two of the biggest constants in a child’s life, so ensuring they happen at the same time each day can go a long way in giving your child a reliable sort of schedule. Try to keep your morning, nap, and bedtime routines as close to normal as possible, and stick to the same times for meals, even if the meals themselves might not be as complex as they used to be.

Set aside time for play and going outdoors

Children learn through play, and it’s also an important opportunity for them to develop motor skills and stay healthy. Even though playgrounds and parks may be closed, try to get outside for a little while each day while maintaining proper social distance. You can walk around the block, or set up an obstacle course in your backyard. Whether it’s scheduled or spontaneous, it’s another important regular event your child can look forward to.

Schedule activities in age-appropriate blocks of time

Older children are better able to work independently for longer periods of time, while younger children have shorter attention spans. Plan your child’s schedules in blocks of time that will set them up to succeed. If you have an older child, they may be able to help keep your younger child entertained as well.

Give your children their own tasks to work on

In times when you need to focus on your own work, you might be able to give your child their own special projects to work on during the day. For example, you can ask your preschooler to color or draw while you’re working. Older children can feel included by helping you do things such as sorting paperwork or putting stamps on envelopes. Setting up a workspace of their own near you can help them as well.

Above all, remain patient and flexible. No two days are alike in quarantine, so do what you can to maintain a schedule, even if it’s a looser one than usual.

Staying Connected Despite Distance

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Staying Connected Despite Distance

When most of us are at home and physically distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can be feeling a loss of connection from our friends, and family members we don’t live with. Children feel this too, and in a different way than adults. Not only do children have fun playing with their friends, but play is the main way they learn about the world and other people. If your child is having trouble being apart from their friends and family during quarantine, here are some tips to help them stay connected despite distance.

Set up regular video chat sessions

Thanks to video chat services, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with people in your life. Whether you set up a regularly-scheduled video call with your child’s grandparents, or let your child video call their best friend when they feel like they miss them, it’s an ideal way to stay in touch.

One fun idea is to organize a virtual play date with your child’s closest friends. Get in touch with their parents ahead of time to find a time that would work well for everyone. Depending on the age of your child, this play date might not last very long, or they might benefit from suggested activities. For example, they can do show and tell, or each draw a picture together. Even if the children decide to just talk to each other or wave and say hi, it’s a valuable opportunity for them to stay connected.

Engage with  your child’s preschool or daycare online

Many schools and daycares are offering online solutions to help keep students engaged and connected. For example, KLA Schools has set up a Virtual Learning Resource Portal,  an interactive and virtual program with components led by teachers as well as opportunities for children to experience our unique curriculum at home with their families.

You can also follow along with teacher-read stories or participate in conversations teachers and parents are having on social media outlets such as Facebook. Many schools are helping their students connect online by sharing photos on Facebook as well.

Write letters and draw pictures

Letters and artwork are not only an ideal way for your child to develop their creativity and fine motor skills, but they can also help them to stay connected with friends and family. Depending on your child’s age, you may want to help them write a short letter, or they can draw a picture for someone special. You can mail this letter traditionally, or drop it off at the recipient’s home while maintaining proper social distance.

Drive past and wave

Maintaining proper physical distance is important during the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still opportunities to see friends and family face-to-face. Make plans to bring your child over to drive by and honk or wave at their friend or family member. Even if they may not get a chance to play or have a conversation, being able to see a familiar smiling face can go a long way in helping your child stay connected.

Managing Your Child’s Screen Time During Quarantine

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Managing Your Child's Screen Time During Quarantine

When our regular activities are restricted because of coronavirus quarantine, it can be tempting to turn to screen-based activities on our devices. If you’re concerned about managing your child’s screen time during quarantine, here are some tips.

Relax the rules slightly

Normally, you may not let your child have a lot of screen time, but the pandemic situation has made life very different from normal. Families everywhere are learning to manage with disruptions in schedules and regular daily life, not to mention the stress that can come with being indoors more often than not. Nusheen Ameenuddin, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media, suggests that more screen time won’t be harmful as long as it’s age-appropriate and meaningful interactions between you and your child take place throughout the day.

Limit and monitor screen time

Even if you do opt to relax the rules, there should still be structure. As with any other screen time use, your child should be using devices in a safe way. Also, unlimited screen time can lead to boredom, when children are more likely to take risks with the media they’re consuming. Ensure screen time is just one of the activities your child does in quarantine, and not the main one. Here is a list of time-management apps that may help.

As usual, it’s a good idea to have screen-free mealtimes, and have dedicated time away from devices where your child is doing another activity.

Encourage education or connection

While watching a movie or playing a game can be fun and distracting for your child, the quarantine can also be an ideal time for your child to learn, or connect with a loved one. KLA Schools has set up a Virtual Learning Resource Portal,  an interactive and virtual program with components led by teachers as well as opportunities for children to experience our unique curriculum at home with their families. For socialization, you can set up virtual play dates with your child’s friends or regular video chats with family.

Use devices together

Participating in screen time together is not only a way to bond with your child, but it’s also an ideal opportunity to have discussions with your child about what they’re seeing. You can watch a movie together, play a game together, or listen to music together.

Celebrating Birthdays During Quarantine

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Celebrating Birthdays During Quarantine

Children love celebrating their birthday with friends and fun activities. If your child will be celebrating a birthday in quarantine, they may be feeling sad at not being able to have a traditional party. However, there are many fun ideas for celebrating your child’s birthday in quarantine.

Hold a movie marathon

If your child loves family movie night, why not make it an all-day event? Let your child choose a few of their favorite movies, create a comfortable living room environment with lots of cushions and blankets, and settle in for a fun day. You can even provide some favorite movie snacks and drinks that you can easily make with ingredients you have at home.

Let your child be the boss

Most of us are having trouble adjusting to the restrictions of quarantine, and children may have a harder time than adults. For their birthday, they might really enjoy being able to “be the boss” for that day, making all the decisions about the family’s clothes, food, and activities within the rules of quarantine.

Try a virtual party

Many of us are working from home and having virtual meetings, so why not host a virtual birthday party for your child? This can be a good idea if your child’s friends and family are on different schedules or live far away. Play music, sing songs, do show and tell, or just let the children talk to each other. You can also hire a virtual performer for your child’s birthday, or try free ones such as Camp.

Splurge on a special meal or dessert

People are trying to do their best on pantry and frozen food during quarantine, but your child’s birthday can be an ideal opportunity to celebrate while supporting a local business as well. Order their favorite meal for delivery, or even a dessert – or both. You can also buy ingredients to make your child’s favorite meal or snack with them.

Ask friends to drive by and celebrate from a distance

You may not be able to welcome your child’s friends to your home, but that doesn’t mean they can’t see them. Ask your child’s friends and family to drive by and honk, wave, or say hi from a safe distance. They can even bring balloons or special handmade signs.

Enjoy fun indoor activities and games

Many birthday parties for children focus on active games and fun activities. The good news is you can re-create many of these activities at home with just a little bit of setup. Try some fun indoor activities for children.

4 Fun Springtime Crafts for Children

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4 Fun Springtime Crafts for Children

Even if you may not be able to spend time outdoors during coronavirus quarantine, there are still many fun springtime crafts you and your child can make together. Try these four crafts to help teach your child all about spring.

Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeder

You can help your child welcome birds back to your neighborhood with this homemade bird feeder. All you’ll need are toilet paper or paper towel rolls, a few sturdy sticks, string, and a hole punch. If you don’t have bird seed, you can use unsalted and unbuttered popcorn, sunflower seeds, or dried fruit.

Find out how to make a toilet paper roll bird feeder here.

Yarn-Wrapped Flowers

If you have some yarn, cardboard, and colored markers, you can create your own yarn-wrapped flower bouquet. You can let your child draw the flower shape they like best, and cut it out for them.

Find out how to make a yarn-wrapped flower craft here.

Cupcake Liner Chicks

This craft is fun and highly customizable. If you don’t have the materials for the eyes or wings, you can draw them or cut them out using colored paper.

Find out how to make cupcake liner chicks here.

Tissue Paper Rainbows

This rainbow craft will not only help your child learn about the colors of the rainbow, but it’ll help develop their fine motor skills as well. You can use colored construction paper if you don’t have tissue paper.

Find out how to make tissue paper rainbows here.

Your child’s imagination and excitement about the animals, trees, flowers, and plants of spring will make a day of crafting a fun experience for the whole family. These four craft ideas are not only engaging, but they can be customized to suit what you happen to already have at home.

Teaching Young Children About Nutrition

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Teaching Young Children About Nutrition

Whether or not your child is a picky eater, as a parent you want to make sure they get all the nutrients they need for healthy development. Yet, it can be difficult to encourage your children to eat the nutritious food you want them to eat. Here are some ways you can help to teach your young child about nutrition, and why it’s important.

Read books together about healthy eating

Children’s books can help explain nutrition in a way they’ll understand and find engaging. Read together and discuss the concepts discussed in the books. Some books include Good Enough to Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition and Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You: All About Staying Healthy.

Cook and shop together

When a child has control and ownership over what they’re eating, they’re more likely to be receptive to trying new and nutritious food. You can try cooking together from a cookbook like Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook, or try one of these easy recipes to make with your child. Also, getting your child involved in the weekly grocery shop will help them to understand where their food comes from, and appreciate all that goes into nutrition.

Talk about food in an age-appropriate way

As adults, we’re familiar with micronutrients and macronutrients, but these concepts are likely to confuse a child. Instead, discuss how nutritious food gives them energy to play and helps their bodies grow strong. Avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” so children can learn for themselves which foods are healthier than others. According to Psychology Today, “it is important to explain why some foods can help them grow strong and other foods are just fun “sometimes” foods.”

Focus on a healthy lifestyle rather than weight

Even though many adults are concerned with their weight, children may not understand it in the same way we do, and they can develop a negative view of food and exercise. Instead, frame food and nutrition as a fun and interesting part of daily life, rather than a necessity. This will help keep your child interested and encouraged to learn more, while developing healthy habits that will last them a lifetime.

These are just a few tips for teaching your young child about nutrition. Enjoy the process and have fun with it, and your child will too.

Developing Your Child’s Gross Motor Skills

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Developing Your Child's Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are physical skills that involve large muscle groups of the body. Children use their gross motor skills when they run, jump, stand, sit, walk, balance, climb, and dance. Not only do they help your child move around, but they also assist them in performing everyday activities.

Here are some fun ways you can help your child develop their gross motor skills, both indoors and outdoors.

  • Obstacle course – An obstacle course is an ideal way to involve several gross motor skills at once, while giving your child an enjoyable goal to work towards. You can set up an obstacle course either indoors or outdoors. Look for safe yet challenging ways for your child to climb, crawl, balance, and jump.
  • Dancing – Dancing involves coordination and balance, so it can be a great way to help your child develop their gross motor skills. You can either let your child’s imagination help them to create a dance routine of their own, or sing movement-focused songs such as “I’m a Little Teapot.”
  • Hopscotch – Not only is this classic game a fun way to learn numbers, but it also develops balance, coordination, and motor accuracy.
  • Pretend play – There are many opportunities to develop your child’s gross motor skills through pretend play. You can pretend to be a bear and walk on your hands and feet, act out the way frogs jump, or build a castle using empty cardboard boxes and cushions.
  • Play ball games – Whether you’re rolling a large ball to your toddler, tossing a baseball around with your school-age child, or kicking a soccer ball back and forth, your child will develop balance, coordination, and control of their movements.
  • Play with bubbles – Blowing bubbles is a fun activity for children, and when they run to catch and pop them, they develop gross motor skills as well. Older children can use larger bubble wands to help develop gross motor skills further.
  • Play tag or freeze tag – Games such as tag and freeze tag allow your child to have fun with their friends while running, pivoting, and balancing.
  • Balance games – Having your child walk along a sidewalk curb or a line on the ground is a fun and safe way to help them learn balance.

You can also talk with your child’s preschool teacher for other fun ways to help your child develop their gross motor skills.

Ways to Model Good Behavior as a Parent

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Ways to Model Good Behavior as a Parent

Young children are very curious and observant, and often mimic the behavior of their parents or caregivers. Recent research has suggested that a child’s tendency to copy everything an adult, does regardless of the logic behind the actions, is a universal human trait. According to psychologist Mark Nielsen, children may do this because they assume that adults have a good reason for doing what they do.

For this reason, you can use your own actions and words to demonstrate appropriate behaviors for your child. Here are some examples of ways you can model good behavior for your child.

Share and take turns with other adults

Teaching a child to share or take turns is something many parents struggle with. However, if your child can see how you do it, they will have an easier time understanding how it looks. Make a point of sharing or taking turns in front of your child, whether it’s offering to give your partner half of your dessert, or waiting patiently for a relative to pass a condiment at dinner. You can even point out to your child what you’re doing, so that they make the connection. For example, you can say, “Grandma is sharing her book with me. Thank you, Grandma!”

Talk through your feelings

Young children can have difficulty understanding or processing their emotions, and may resort to shouting, tantrums, or hitting. To help your child understand how to process their feelings, you can demonstrate how to act when you’re upset. Though it can be difficult to ground yourself in the moment, it will be very beneficial to your child if you take a deep breath and say something like, “I’m feeling frustrated because there are so many toys on the floor that we might trip over. Can you please help me pick them up?” By discussing how your feelings, you’re showing your child that it gets better results than being hurtful or angry.

Follow your own rules

Children notice many things, and they often notice when an adult isn’t acting the same way they expect a child to act. This can confuse a child and give them mixed messages about the rules they’re expected to follow. You can easily counter this by making sure your own behavior aligns with what you tell your child. For example, if you want your child to make sure to say please and thank you, make a point of doing so yourself on a regular basis.

Promote positive role models

Not only does your child look to you for behavioral guidance, but they notice the adults around you as well. If the adults closest to your child also model positive behaviors, your child will have more opportunities to see these behaviors reinforced. Where possible, try to surround your child with positive role models who exhibit the good behavior you are trying to teach your child.

Fun Math Activities for Preschoolers

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Fun Math Activities for Preschoolers

Children are introduced to the fundamentals of math from an early age. Pattern recognition, pattern creation, shapes, and sizes are all concepts that form the building blocks of math. Try these fun math activities with your preschooler to help them build on these concepts.

  1. Sing songs that involve numbers
  2. Ask your child for help with measuring ingredients while cooking
  3. While playing, ask your child to arrange their stuffed animals by size
  4. Measure soil for seeds while gardening
  5. Create play money for your child in simple denominations and use them while playing
  6. Sort and group objects in a sensory bin
  7. Offer different sizes of measuring cups in a sensory bin for your child to experiment with
  8. Sort beads on labeled pipe cleaners
  9. Play I Spy when running errands, focusing on simple two-dimensional shapes
  10. Have a simple shape-focused scavenger hunt
  11. Arrange colored blocks by shape
  12. Arrange colored blocks in repeatable patterns
  13. Sing clapping songs such as Patty Cake
  14. Sort differently-colored cars with the help of sidewalk chalk
  15. Ask your child to help you sort differently-sized plates and cups while putting away the dishes
  16. Draw different numbers and shapes and ask your child to color them in
  17. Have your child draw their own numbers and shapes
  18. Create a count and sort box game
  19. Play a Count and Eat game with small food items
  20. Create a numbers-focused bean bag toss game at home

Opportunities for your preschooler to learn math skills are all around them. These twenty math activities will help your child have fun while learning.

How to Support Your Child in Uncertain Times

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How to Support Your Child in Uncertain Times

Many children experience fear or anxiety when they hear about world events or stressful things. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one out of every eight children is affected by an anxiety disorder. As a parent, you want to keep your child as protected and safe as possible. But what can you do to support them in uncertain times?

Here are some tips for helping your child remain calm and secure when things seem scary to them.

Encourage deep breathing

While it may seem basic, the way we breathe has a direct effect on our stress levels. Deep breathing brings more oxygen to the brain, encouraging relaxation. Helping your child learn a deep breathing technique teaches them a coping strategy they can use anywhere, any time. Show them how to breathe in and count to two in their head, hold their breath for three counts, then breathe out while counting to four. You can do the counting for them if needed.

Have open and honest conversations

Your child will have questions about the event that’s making them anxious, and it’s important for them to know that you will always listen to them and empathize with their feelings. Encourage your child to talk to you about how they feel, and answer any questions as honestly as you can, considering their age. Be truthful, but focus on alleviating your child’s immediate fears. Let them know that, above all, you love them and will always take care of them.

Limit your child’s exposure to the news

The constant news cycle can cause increased fear and anxiety in adults, not to mention in children who lack context to understand. Children may believe that a situation is scarier or more immediate than it really is, because of how often they might hear about it. Try to reduce your child’s exposure to the news to alleviate these fears. If you do tune in for an update, keep it brief, and be available in case your child has any questions about what they’ve seen.

Model calm behavior

If your child sees that you’re not scared, they’ll feel reassured. Even if you are worried yourself, make sure that your child sees you behaving in a composed and positive manner. It’s okay if your child sees that you’re concerned, but explain your feelings in age-appropriate language for your child, and remain in control. Try to stick to a familiar routine as much as possible.

For more tips on helping support your child in uncertain times, read or listen to an interview with child development psychologist Dr Judith Bryant on talking with your child about coronavirus.

Indoor Activities for Children

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Indoor Activities for Children

When families are unable to go outside, it may seem like the children have the hardest time adjusting. Because children love to play and be active, these feelings are understandable. However, there are several ways you can help to support your child and help them to have fun indoors.

Here are some fun indoor activities for children.

Indoor scavenger hunt

No matter your child’s age, there are many possibilities for fun and interesting indoor scavenger hunts. For younger children who can’t yet read, you can create a visual checklist of clues, drawing what they’d have to look for.

Some ideas for indoor scavenger hunts include:

  • Finding a certain number of items of the same color
  • Hiding stuffed animals around the house and pretending they’ve escaped the zoo
  • Numbers-related scavenger hunt – either find as many instances of one number, or search from a list of numbers
  • Older children can take photos of items on their list instead of using a checklist
  • Using riddles as clues. Here are some household item riddles for kids.

Movie night (or afternoon)

A day indoors is an ideal opportunity for your child to indulge in one of their favorite movies, or several movies with a similar theme. You can make it into a special occasion by piling pillows and blankets on the couch, and having some of their favorite snacks and drinks within reach. If you’re working from home, you may need to be nearby to supervise and ensure everyone is safe and happy.

At-home science project

Preschool or daycare is a great place for your child to learn the fundamentals of science, but you can create fun experiments for your child at home too.

For example, you can help your child learn about buoyancy, volume, and mass with household objects. Fill a large bowl with a bit of water, and mark the water level on the container. Then, get several small objects such as coins and toy cars. Help your child place the objects into the bowl. As the water level rises, make observations with your child. Are the coins heavier than the toy cars? How many of each object does it take to make the water overflow? Does the size of the item make the water level rise faster?

Get active

Being stuck indoors doesn’t mean your child can’t enjoy some physical activity. Here are some ways your child can stay active indoors and get their energy out:

  • Dance, or “freeze dance” – freezing in place when the music is stopped by you
  • Play volleyball with a balloon in a reasonably open area
  • Set up an indoor obstacle course or maze with chairs, pillows, and cardboard boxes, and help your child to go through it with support if needed
  • In a hallway or other open area, have your child practice throwing a beanbag or rolled-up socks as far as they can into a basket. Move the basket farther away after each successful throw
  • In the same area, mark out “nets” with masking tape and play soccer with a large rubber ball
  • Play pretend as animals and race – hop like a bunny or walk like a crab
  • Hula hoop or jump rope, including music for added interest
  • Have a pillow fight

When playing games like these indoors, ensure your child is supervised, and clear away any hazardous obstacles such as end tables or valuables that could get knocked over.

These are just a few of the ways your family can have fun together indoors, whether it’s relaxing in front of Netflix or enjoying an afternoon of exciting games. If your child is feeling anxious or frustrated about staying indoors, take this time to sit down with them and have a conversation about their feelings. Listen to what they say, and reassure them that you understand and you support them. Then, try to think of a fun activity you can do together.

Helping Your Child Get Along With Others

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Helping Your Child Get Along With Others

Learning to get along well with others is an important skill for young children to learn. Not only will it help them have an easier time in social environments like daycare or preschool, but according to studies, “popular kids are good at interpersonal skills: empathy, perspective-taking, and moral reasoning.”

Here are some ways you can help your child get along with others.

Encourage empathy in your child

Empathy is the basis for several important life skills such as forming strong relationships, conflict resolution, gratitude, and behaving ethically to others. Even very young children can learn this critical social mindset – learn how you can help foster empathy in your child.

Teach your child polite communication and active listening

Knowing how to have a conversation is an important skill that will set your child up for success in later work, school, and social situations. You can help your child learn this skill at home. Some things you can teach your child include giving the other person a chance to speak, asking questions, and offering information about themselves in the conversation. A good way to practice this is by having a pretend phone call with your child.

Have conversations about social situations with your child

Your child may not know how to ask for help with certain social situations, or they may not be able to put their question into words. You can help your child understand social situations by having conversations about what they would do in certain scenarios. For example, you can say, “When you and your little sister both want to play with the same toy, what do you think you could do so you’re both happy?” or “What would you do if you noticed a new kid in your class who’s acting shy?” Keep these conversations open-ended and help your child see what the outcomes could be.

Encourage cooperative social situations

Studies have shown that children tend to get along better when they’re working toward a common goal, whether in school or while playing. If your child has a couple of friends they enjoy playing with, host a play date in your home and offer cooperative – not competitive – games for them to play.

Teach self-control and conflict resolution

Parents of young children know how play can easily turn into conflict. You can help your child deal with these situations by encouraging them to think about how others feel and by demonstrating ways to work through negative emotions. Some examples of conflict resolution skills for young children include: Using “I feel” language, not making rude remarks when upset, taking turns when speaking, and brainstorming solutions.

By encouraging empathy and cooperation, discussing social scenarios, and demonstrating conflict resolution skills, you can help your child learn how to get along with others.

Teaching Dental Health to Young Children

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Teaching Dental Health to Young Children

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one out of 10 two-year-old children already have one or more cavities, and nearly half of five-year-olds have at least one cavity. Even though your child’s baby teeth will fall out, tooth decay can have a negative impact on their permanent teeth. Here are some ways you can encourage good dental habits in your young child.

  • Brush their teeth when they’re already in a good mood. You can make the experience more fun by singing songs about clean teeth.
  • Let your child “help” you brush their teeth by holding the toothbrush with you.
  • Read books about good dental health, such as The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums.
  • Play pretend and visit the dentist. You and your child can take turns playing the patient and the dentist, or one of your child’s favorite stuffed animals or dolls can be the patient.
  • Do fun and educational experiments that demonstrate the importance of good dental hygiene. For example, this experiment with eggs.
  • Teach dental health through arts and crafts. Colgate has some ideas for fun and educational dental crafts for children.
  • Give your child some ownership over their dental health by letting them pick their own toothbrush or toothpaste.
  • Talk about why teeth are important, in age-appropriate ways. For example, healthy teeth help us talk properly.
  • Praise your child for exhibiting good dental hygiene habits, such as brushing their teeth or choosing water instead of fruit juice.
  • Lead by example. Make sure your child sees you brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding sugar, and drinking lots of water.
  • Make dental hygiene a regular part of your child’s routine. This will help them understand that good dental habits are important, and they’ll be more likely to keep up these habits as they get older.

Your child’s dentist is also a great resource to help teach your child good oral hygiene habits. Helping your child understand the importance of good dental health can be fun.

Outdoor Family Activities in the Winter Months

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Outdoor Family Activities in the Winter Months

Depending on where you live, going outdoors during the winter might not be high on your list of fun things to do. However, outdoor time for children is important year-round. Outdoor activity sees a reduced risk of behavior problems, improved attention spans, an easier time falling asleep at night, and increased exposure to Vitamin D.  

Here are some outdoor family activities that everyone can enjoy this winter.

  1. Ice skate at an outdoor rink
  2. Make snow angels
  3. Go for a hike or a walk
  4. Bring a camera on a hike and photograph nature
  5. Collect items like twigs, pinecones, and leaves and make a winter sculpture
  6. Build a snowman or animal snow sculpture
  7. Bundle up and have a picnic
  8. Look for wildlife, and observe from a distance
  9. Make shapes with your tracks in the snow
  10. Hold a winter-themed scavenger hunt
  11. Play a winter sport such as hockey
  12. Try a non-winter sport in the snow, like soccer or football
  13. Offer to shovel a neighbor’s driveway or sidewalk
  14. Check out local attractions such as zoos, state parks, and festivals, many of which stay open in the winter months
  15. Play with your dog in the local off-leash area
  16. Visit the playground if conditions are safe
  17. Go sledding in your neighborhood
  18. Take a mini ski or snowboard trip
  19. Decorate the exterior of your house or your yard with lights
  20. Walk around your neighborhood and admire the lights and decorations

No matter how warm or cold your winter is, there are many ways you and your family can enjoy the great outdoors. Try these outdoor family activities for the winter months.

Indoor Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids

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Indoor Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids

When the weather is rainy or too cold for outdoor activities, your children can still burn off some energy and indulge their natural curiosity with an indoor scavenger hunt. These indoor scavenger hunt ideas range in complexity, but all are fun and engaging for your child.

The basics of an indoor scavenger hunt

No matter what sort of theme you decide on, here are the basic elements of a scavenger hunt:

  • Some items for children to search for
  • Printed-out clues for the children to find and follow
  • Paper and pencil or crayons for your child to track their findings
  • A bag to collect items
  • A timer
  • Enough time to plan and set up, plus time for the actual scavenger hunt

The complexity of the scavenger hunt will depend on your child’s age, but remember to let your child explore on their own and use their problem-solving skills. Create a list of items or clues to find, and give this to your child to reference. This list can be written out or use images.

For an indoor scavenger hunt, you may want to restrict the activity to a certain area, and ensure that your child knows which spaces are off-limits. If you have more than one child, you may choose to have them work together if that would be more fun for everyone.

Indoor scavenger hunt ideas

Here are some fun ideas for an indoor scavenger hunt for your child:

  • Riddle scavenger hunt: By solving riddles that lead to items in their own home, your child will build their problem-solving skills in a creative way. You can find some household item riddles here.
  • Animal or insect scavenger hunt: Hide small stuffed animals or plastic insect toys around your house.
  • Color-based scavenger hunt: Your child can learn about colors in a fun way with this scavenger hunt where they point out or find as many differently-colored items as they can.
  • Letters-based scavenger hunt: You can either hide letter blocks and magnets for your child to find, or ask them to find examples of each letter around the house.
  • Shapes scavenger hunt: There are a multitude of basic shapes in every home. Help your child learn their shapes by asking them to find or locate items that are squares, circles, triangles, and rectangles.
  • Book scavenger hunt: Use your child’s favorite books as part of this fun scavenger hunt. For clues, use distinctive characters, scenes, or drawings.
  • Photo scavenger hunt: Older children who are proficient in using a simple camera can have fun taking photos of subjects on their list.
  • Seasonal scavenger hunt: Even if you’re stuck indoors, you can still experience the seasons. Ask your child to look for items that can be associated with one or all of the seasons, such as a family vacation photo or a pair of mittens.

These indoor scavenger hunt ideas can give your child a fun and educational experience on a snowy or rainy day. When the weather improves, many of them can be done outdoors as well.

Quick and Healthy Family Meals

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Quick and Healthy Family Meals

With work, school, entertainment, classes, and other commitments, your family’s life can be very busy. However, there are many healthy meals that are also delicious and easy to make. Here are some quick and healthy meals that everyone in your family will enjoy. All of these meals can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

Oven-Baked Almond Fish Sticks

Frozen fish sticks are convenient, but making your own can be fast and easy, and you know exactly what’s going into them. With these fish sticks, crushed almonds replace traditional breading, and a marinara sauce is served on the side. You can round out this meal with potatoes and your child’s favorite steamed vegetables.

Get the Oven-Baked Almond Fish Sticks recipe here

Shrimp and Coconut Curry with Rice Noodles

This curry recipe uses store-bought curry paste to save time, and is highly customizable based on your family’s preferences. Try it on rice, substitute tofu for the shrimp, or add other vegetables such as spinach or peas.

Get the Shrimp and Coconut Curry recipe here

Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

In just 15 minutes, you can have this meal ready. There is also an option to make this sweet and sour chicken on the stovetop in just a little bit longer time than in the Instant Pot. This recipe is also gluten-free, and you can use any vegetables you have on hand, such as peppers or mushrooms.

Get the Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe here

Mac and Cheeseburger

This dish uses extra-lean ground sirloin and whole-grain pasta for a healthier take on pasta night. It’s also an ideal lunch or dinner the next day. Serve steamed veggies or a salad on the side for a complete meal.

Get the Mac and Cheeseburger recipe here

Sheet Pan Black Bean Quesadillas

Quesadillas are delicious and can feature many healthy ingredients such as beans and vegetables. This recipe is tailored for batch-cooking quesadillas, so your time in the kitchen is reduced.

Get the Sheet Pan Black Bean Quesadillas recipe here

With these five quick and healthy meal ideas, your family can enjoy a nutritious dinner together in 30 minutes or less.

New Year’s Day Family Activities

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New Year's Day Family Activities

Many families have their own New Year traditions, and it’s always fun to celebrate another year together as a family. Here are some ideas for New Year’s Day activities the whole family can enjoy.

1) Make a special breakfast. What can be better on the first morning of the year than a leisurely breakfast featuring your family’s favorite food? Whether you’re sleeping in or up early, you can make a delicious New Year’s Day breakfast together. Some easy ideas include pancakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, French toast, and muffins. You can also explore traditional New Year’s Day foods from around the world, such as soba noodles, tamales, or lentils.

2) Discuss your year ahead. The first day of the year is an ideal time to set goals and make plans as a family. You don’t need to get very specific, but you can each share what you hope to accomplish for the year ahead, or what you’re looking forward to. You can create a checklist with drawings and photos to help all members of the family feel included.

3) Send greetings to family and friends. Many of us have friends and relatives all over the world, and New Year’s Day is a good time to send your best wishes as a family. Whether it’s through video chat, a phone call, a text, or an email, getting the whole family involved will show your loved ones how much you care.

4) Attend a local event to celebrate the New Year. Many towns host family-friendly events on New Year’s Day. For example, you can enjoy a parade, see a movie, go ice skating, or visit a museum or zoo.

5) Think of ways to help others. Even though the holiday season is over, making a plan to help others can show your child that it’s important to have compassion for others all year long. On New Year’s Day, you can spend some time discussing ways you can show kindness to those less fortunate throughout the year, or you can help your child set aside some toys to donate to underprivileged children.

6) Spend time outdoors. No matter where you live, there is likely an outdoor activity you and your family can enjoy on the first day of the year. Whether it’s an afternoon building snowmen or a hike through the forest, your family can enjoy the fresh air and start off your new year with some quality time.

7) Do something new. The new year provides an ideal opportunity for you and your family to experience something new and fun. Try a new tradition on New Year’s Day, such as a special dinner, a particular movie, or a fun activity that you decide on together. This is a great way to create lasting family memories.

4 Holiday-Themed Sensory Play Ideas

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4 Holiday-Themed Sensory Play Ideas

Since children learn through hands-on experiences, you may want to consider a sensory table as part of your child’s home playtime. This time of year can be ideal to help your child use their senses to celebrate the holidays.

Fill your sensory table or bins with materials to scoop, pour, and mix, and mediums to help your child interact with the materials. Here are four holiday-themed sensory play ideas.

Christmas Magnet Science Sensory Play Activity

This unique science-focused sensory bin is an ideal way for your child to learn about magnets in a fun, hands-on way. Purchasing some items is required, but you can also use some household items as materials and mediums. This sensory bin is Christmas-themed, but can be interpreted in other ways throughout the year.

Sensory Play with Gingerbread Scented Rice

The gingerbread rice in this sensory play idea not only provides a classic holiday scent, but it’s also a fun material that can represent snow. You can add ornaments, scoops or measuring spoons, animal toys, rocks, foil, and other items to enhance the winter scene.

Hanukkah Sensory Bin

Children can celebrate Hanukkah by mixing and exploring the different textures of candles, dreidels, gelt, and even cookie cutters. You can also add water beads, sparkles, and white and blue yarn.

Christmas Tree Sensory Bin

With this sensory bin, you can deconstruct the components of a Christmas tree in a way that encourages your child to explore the varying textures and sounds of the holidays. This sensory bin can be customized to suit the age of your child.

You can set up your child’s sensory play area in a dedicated sensory table with small built-in bins, or in small tubs and bins you have at home. Sensory play may get messy, so take precautions for spills or splashes. As always, make sure that all sensory bin items do not pose a choking hazard.

Fun Things To Do With Kids in December

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Fun Things To Do With Kids in December

With the holidays approaching, many families are looking forward to some relaxed days off to spend together. Here are some ideas for family-friendly events for everyone to enjoy this December.

Go ice skating

If you live in an area that sees a snowy winter, an afternoon spent at an outdoor skating rink can be a great way to have some family fun. Many towns in warmer areas have indoor ice skating rinks as well. Make the day extra special with cold-weather treats such as hot chocolate or gingerbread cookies.

Visit a holiday market

Many cities and towns across the country hold holiday markets this time of year. Whether or not you’ve already finished your holiday gift shopping, these markets are a great way to see what local businesses and artisans have to offer. Many markets also offer holiday food, drink, and entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

Bake holiday treats as a family

December is a time of various celebrations and visits to and from family and friends. There are many ways your child can help you bake your holiday treats. Measuring and pouring ingredients help teach math skills, and mixing builds gross motor skills. Food Network has some ideas for cookies easy enough for your child to help with. 

Make crafts together

There are many holiday crafts you and your child can make together that will create some fond memories and keepsakes. Holiday crafts don’t have to be expensive or take a lot of time. Here are some ideas for holiday season crafts for preschoolers.

Have a holiday-themed movie night

Even if you live in a warm climate, cozying up at home watching holiday movies is an ideal family activity for this time of year. Bundle up with blankets and supply movie-appropriate snacks, and let your children have some input on which movie to watch.

Volunteer or donate to those in need

The holiday season is all about being compassionate to those who need it. You can help your child get into this charitable spirit by volunteering or donating to organizations that help people. Many organizations offer opportunities to volunteer together. For donations, some ideas include food, unused clothing, or old toys that are still in good repair. There are also activities in support of a charity that your family may enjoy.

The holidays are a time for family and friends to gather and create lasting memories. These kid-friendly activities are some ways for you and your family to celebrate December, no matter your budget or time commitments.

Helping Your Child Adjust to a New Sibling

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Helping Your Child Adjust to a New Sibling

The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for your family. However, if you have older children, you may be wondering how they’ll adjust. Here are some ways you can help your child adjust to their new sibling.

Read books about new babies

There are many books available that can help your child work through their feelings and understand the change in their life. Some books you can read together include The New Baby, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby, Good Night New Baby, and Babies Don’t Eat Pizza.

Acknowledge your child’s feelings

When the baby comes, your older child may feel many conflicting emotions. They may act differently than usual, or in a way you didn’t expect. It’s a difficult time for your child, and it’s important to acknowledge your older child’s feelings as valid. Remind them that you still love them and that they are still an important member of the family. According to family therapist Meri Wallace, LCSW, letting your child talk about their feelings can empower them and reduce the risk of protest through negative behavior.

Spend one-on-one time together

Spending even a few minutes with your older child every day can make a big difference. You can read a book together, go to the playground, or even talk about their day at preschool or school. To help make this easier, you can wear your baby in a sling, or ask another family member or relative to spend time with the newborn while you’re with your older child.

Ask your older child for help

Getting your older child involved in your daily life with your newborn can help them to feel less confused and unsettled. You can ask your child to bring you a fresh diaper or sing softly to the newborn at bedtime. This can also be an ideal way to create a bond between the siblings.

Help your child understand babies

Your older child may be disappointed to realize that a newborn is not an immediate playmate. Help your child to understand that their new sibling will be fragile and sleep and cry often. Encourage gentle touches and focus on ways your child can feel involved that don’t involve the sort of playing older children can do together.

In addition to these tips, the Mayo Clinic has some recommendations for introducing your older child to their new sibling. These include letting another family member hold the newborn for a while so your older child can spend some time with you, and giving your child a special gift “from the baby.”