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

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

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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.”

Nurturing Curiosity in Children

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Nurturing Curiosity in Children

Children learn through hands-on experiences, and are endlessly curious. Here are some ways you can help your young child nurture their natural curiosity and become keen lifelong learners.

Encourage inquisitiveness and answer appropriately

Parents of young children know how often they ask why something happens, or what it is. Answer questions as honestly as you can given your child’s age. You can also help your child build upon this natural curiosity by encouraging them to find the answer or work through the problem where possible.

Ask open-ended questions

As adults, we know how a conversation can lead us to different ideas and perspectives, and this is very true in children as well. For example, instead of asking “Did you have a good day at preschool today?” you might ask, “What was your favorite thing about preschool today?” By following this line of conversation, you’ll learn more about your child while also allowing them to work through their own interests and thoughts.

Follow your child’s interests

If your child seems interested in a particular question, idea, or activity, let them take the lead. Allowing them to pursue their own curiosity will show them that their imagination and interests are valid.

Prioritize open-ended play

Because children learn through hands-on experiences, allow your child opportunities to explore through play. You can create a sensory bin or table with a variety of materials and textures, or find other activities where your child’s imagination takes over.

Model curious behavior

Let your child see you trying new things and being receptive to new ideas. Whether it’s a new hobby, a different kind of food, or an activity you’ve always been curious about, you’ll set an example. Your child will see that being curious about the world around them can lead to interesting new things

Tips for Balancing Work and Family

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Tips for Balancing Work and Family

With all that goes into our careers, family life, and personal life, balancing everything can seem difficult. However, you can get closer to being able to balance work and family in the way that works best for you. Here are some ideas.

  1. Find good childcare. Whether you need infant, toddler, preschool, kindergarten, or before/after school programs, a good childcare center will partner with you to educate and nurture your child during your workday.
  2. Delegate or cut some tasks at work and home where possible, particularly if they’re making you less productive. Ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by a particular task.
  3. Investigate the possibility of working more flexible hours or working from home wherever possible.
  4. Set boundaries between work and home life – try to not take work stress or responsibilities home with you. If you work from home, resist the temptation to check emails or return messages after work hours. Ensure you have clear working hours that both you and your coworkers and clients adhere to.
  5. Use your trip home to help you transition from a work mindset to a family mindset. Think of what you and your family can do after dinner, or listen to your favorite podcast or music to help you wind down.
  6. Ask for help if you need more time to get everything done. For example, you may be able to arrange a rotating carpool school drop-off schedule with neighbors.
  7. Try waking up a few minutes earlier in the morning to create a quick to-do list or list of your top priorities for the day. It can feel difficult to get started in the morning, but creating even a rough plan for the day can help you feel more in control and prepared.
  8. Do as much as possible in advance the night before, such as preparing lunches, or laying out your child’s clothes and school things.
  9. Allow your child more independence with tasks at home in an age-appropriate way.
  10. Wherever possible, stick to an evening routine. This will help you be more present in your family life, and will help your child know what to expect from you each night.
  11. However, don’t stick to the routine too strictly. A spontaneous movie night at home or meal at your family’s favorite restaurant can be a fun way for everyone to create memories
  12. Schedule special dates with your partner, or one-on-one activities with your child. Not only will this help you ensure you’re not overlooking anyone in your family, but it will remind the other person that you consider time with them to be important.
  13. Learn to identify those tasks and activities that can take time away from your family responsibilities, and which ones you can say no to.
  14. Have regular check-ins with your partner and other family members to make sure that nobody is feeling overwhelmed or overlooked.
  15. Take time for yourself to ensure you’re not overlooking your own emotional health. Whether it’s exercise, meditation, reading, or something else you enjoy, make self-care a priority so you can more effectively handle your work and parenting duties.

Finding a good balance between work and family responsibilities can seem challenging, but with these tips, you might find it easier to create that balance.

Teaching Your Preschooler Problem-Solving

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Teaching Your Preschooler Problem-Solving

Preschoolers are constantly learning new things and gaining new experiences in the world around them. It’s an ideal time of a child’s life to help them learn how to solve problems and feel secure in doing so. Good problem-solving skills will last them a lifetime, and can help them resolve conflicts, perform well in school and work, and become confident adults.

Here are five ways you can help teach your preschooler how to problem-solve.

1) Use creative play to teach problem-solving

Children learn through play, and it’s an ideal way to help them learn how to solve problems and resolve issues. Creative play is fun and imaginative, and the consequences of making a wrong choice are minor. Together, you and your preschooler can put together a jigsaw puzzle, build a car out of differently-sized blocks, play hide-and-seek, or do an obstacle course in the backyard.

2) Read books that feature problem-solving

There are many books that feature characters in sticky situations that they need to figure a way out of, or characters who have a goal in mind and work to get there. Some examples are What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada, The Angry Dragon by Michael Gordon, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. When reading a book like this, ask your child questions about what they think will happen next, or what they would do.

3) Model curiosity and open-mindedness

You likely know how often your preschooler observes and maybe even imitates what you say and do. You can use this as an opportunity to model problem-solving skills. For example, if you’re at the grocery store with your preschooler and you find that a key ingredient in that day’s dinner is out of stock, you can say to your child, “They’re out of broccoli, but I think I’ll use cauliflower instead. It’s not exactly the same, but we’ll try it and see how it is! What do you think?” In addition, let your child see you being open-minded about solutions to problems, even if you disagree.

4) Allow some failure

As a parent, it can be hard to resist doing something for your child if you know helping them will just take a second. However, if a child doesn’t fail at a task from time to time, they won’t learn what it takes to succeed at it. If the failure is harmless and minor, such as a child trying to make their own sandwich and not enjoying the result, let it happen – this way, your child will be better equipped to make adjustments for next time.

5) Be patient and encouraging

Learning how to solve a certain problem can sometimes feel frustrating to your preschooler. However, remain patient and encourage them to try again another time, and remind them that you’re proud of them for trying. With your support, your child will learn that they have the ability to face their problems and find solutions.

Helping an Anxious Preschooler

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Helping an Anxious Preschooler

Many adults are familiar with anxiety, but as a parent or caregiver, anxiety in children can feel even worse. Here are some ways you can help your preschooler manage their anxiety, and give them helpful coping skills they can use for the rest of their life.

Recognize the signs of anxiety in preschoolers

Because preschoolers are still developing their language skills and ideas of behavior, you may need to look for non-verbal cues that your child is experiencing anxiety. These signs of anxiety include:

  • Clinginess
  • Crying or tantrums
  • Excessive shyness
  • Unwillingness to do certain things such as go to preschool
  • Jitters
  • Shortness of breath
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Dry mouth
  • Clammy hands
  • Frequent stomachaches or headaches

While some anxious children make their feelings known, other children can be quiet. Anxiety is a very common occurrence in children, but if you believe that your child’s anxiety is causing distress in their everyday life, it’s a good idea to consult their pediatrician.

Discuss your child’s feelings

Your child looks to you for guidance and support, so if they’re experiencing anxiety, take the time to have a calm and open discussion about their feelings. Resist the urge to tell them to relax or promise that everything will be okay. Instead, listen to what your child is saying and acknowledge their feelings as valid. You can also share stories about times you’ve felt anxious in the past.

For example, if your preschooler has started crying when visitors come over, you can say, “When Aunt Louisa came for lunch yesterday, I noticed you seemed very upset. Was something making you feel worried?”

You can also help them to identify their physical reactions to anxiety, and ask them how they felt when they were anxious about something.

Don’t go overboard with avoidance

While it’s not helpful to force your child into an experience that scares them, it can also work against your child to completely avoid the experience. For example, if your preschooler feels anxious about meeting new friends, avoiding parties and busy playgrounds can send the message that new people are scary. It may also tell them that you don’t believe they can improve. Instead, help your child practice confronting their fears in small steps.

Help your child practice coping strategies

Preschoolers can practice coping with anxiety in small, easily-understood activities. For example, helping you blow balloons can help them learn about taking deep breaths. Then, if you notice them starting to get anxious, you can remind them about the time they blew up a balloon.

You can also help your child role-play situations that make them anxious. This is a low-stakes way for you and your child to figure out things they can do to cope in those situations, and practicing those things can increase their confidence.

Talk with your child’s preschool teacher

As your partner in parenting, your child’s preschool teacher can help your child with their anxiety. They may have tips you can use at home, and they can help your child carry out the coping behaviors learned at home.

When helping your anxious preschooler, patience, compassion, and respect will go a long way. You can help your child to recognize and manage their anxiety in a loving and supportive way.

Halloween Safety for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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Halloween Safety for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Halloween safety for children is a big concern for parents this time of year, and especially when it comes to younger children. Here are some ways to help keep your toddler or preschooler safe and having fun this Halloween.

  • Find (or make) a safe Halloween costume – Look for costumes that don’t restrict movement and don’t pose suffocation, tripping, or choking hazards. Here are some age-appropriate Halloween costume ideas.
  • Dress your child for the weather – Whatever costume your child will be wearing, it’s important to dress for the conditions if you’re going trick-or-treating.
  • Cut the pumpkin yourself – your child can help by scooping out the seeds. Supervise your child, as seeds can be a choking hazard.
  • You may also decide to have your child decorate a small pumpkin with kid-friendly paint.
  • Use a glow stick or mini LED candle instead of a real candle inside a jack o’ lantern.
  • Add reflective tape to your child’s costume so they are visible to drivers and other trick-or-treaters.
  • Ensure your child doesn’t walk too far from you. This can be a concern particularly if your child sees something scary and begins to run away.
  • Carry a flashlight when trick-or-treating with your child.
  • Ensure house walkways and porch steps are clear of tripping hazards.
  • Never let a child enter a home unless it’s a well-known friend or neighbor.
  • Inspect all candy before your child eats it. Throw away anything with torn or non-existent wrapping, appears to have been opened, presents a choking hazard, or is homemade if you don’t know the source.

In addition, many families of young children opt out of trick-or-treating altogether, and decide to host a toddler- and preschool-friendly Halloween party. This can be a safer alternative, as well as a less intense experience for young children.

What Makes a Safe Playground?

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What Makes a Safe Playground?

A playground is an ideal place for your child to get the benefits of outdoor play. However, you also want to be sure that the playground your child uses is safe. Here are some considerations when looking for a safe playground for your child.

  • Age-appropriate areas. Children younger than five years old should have a separate play area, as they aren’t as active and resilient as older children. Look for a playground that has a separate play area for younger children. Many playgrounds have signage to help you find the correct area.
  • Safe surfaces. A good playground should have surfaces that will absorb impacts and make walking, running, and jumping easier on your child. Look for surfaces such as wood chips, sand, shredded rubber, and mulch. Grass and dirt may seem impact-absorbing, but can be just as unsafe as asphalt or concrete. Ensure also that there are no tripping hazards such as tree branches or rocks.
  • Stability of equipment. Ensure that nothing is loose or otherwise insecurely fastened to the ground or other equipment. Handrails and barriers should be present and secure as well.
  • Children make messes in the natural course of play, but avoid playgrounds that have garbage, animal droppings, glass, or other hazardous materials on and around the equipment.
  • Proper swings. Look for swings that are not made from wood or metal. Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that babies with good head control and who can sit up with support try bucket-style swings. They also recommend that the swing surfacing, in the back and front, extends twice the height of the suspending bar.
  • Spacing of equipment. Equipment with moving parts, such as swings and seesaws, should be a safe distance away from other equipment.
  • No risk of falls or entrapment. Openings in nets, bars, or rails can pose a risk for falls or your child becoming trapped. According to the National Safety Council, “openings between rails, bars, rungs and even ropes of cargo nets should be less than 3 1/2 inches or more than 9 inches.”

As a parent or guardian, you know your child best. Always ensure that they can manage the playground equipment on their own, and supervise them at all times. With these safety tips, you and your child can both relax and have fun at the playground.

5 Outdoor Play Ideas

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5 Outdoor Play Ideas

Time spent outdoors has a multitude of benefits for children, including a reduced risk of behavior problems, improved attention spans, an easier time falling asleep at night, and increased exposure to Vitamin D. These are added on to the overall benefits of play in children.

According to Dr Kenneth Ginsburg of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play in an outdoor, natural environment allows children to explore both their world and their own minds … Nature places virtually no bounds on the imagination and engages all of the senses.”

Here are five outdoor play ideas to help get your child outside and having fun.

Go for a walk or bike ride

A walk or bike ride is an inexpensive and enjoyable way for the whole family to spend time outdoors, and it gets your child moving. You can do a short trip around the block after dinner, go for a hike in the forest, or even try walking to perform certain nearby errands. Here are our top bicycle safety tips for children.

Create a sensory bin

Children learn through hands-on experiences, and a sensory bin or table is a great way to encourage this learning. You can create a sensory bin using household items, or buy a dedicated sensory table. There are many different options for a sensory bin that will encourage your child’s creativity and curiosity while helping them learn new skills. Not to mention, playing with a sensory bin outdoors makes messes less of an issue.

Blow bubbles

Blowing bubbles is always a fun activity for children, and can help them to increase their fine and gross motor skills. Store-bought bubbles are typically inexpensive, but you can also create a bubble mix at home. You can find a homemade bubble recipe here, along with some science experiments you and your child can do together.

Go on a scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are a fun way for your child to spend time outdoors while engaging their bodies and minds. You can hold this scavenger hunt in your own backyard or any other outdoor area that’s safe for your child to explore. You can hide your own objects, or even simply take photos of plants, flowers, and trees for your child to find. Depending on your child’s age, you can create a checklist for them to use.

Look for what will encourage activity

Whether or not your child has an obvious interest in sports or physical activity, you can find a toy or game that will encourage them to move. You can play catch, Frisbee, soccer, or tag as a family and customize the activity level based on what your child enjoys and is capable of. You can also look for toys and games that might seem less intense for your child, such as a skipping rope, hopscotch, or limbo.

With these five ideas for outdoor play, you will be giving your child the opportunity to build skills and gain a wide range of health benefits. What’s more, your child will have fun while learning.

The Atelier – A Unique Artistic Expression for Children

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The Atelier - A Unique Artistic Expression for Children

In the Reggio Emilia educational approach, there is an expression, “A child has a hundred languages.” These languages refer to art, innovation, nature, construction, fantasy, music, dance, building, writing, talking, signing, science and more. An education incorporating these multiple languages helps children build knowledge and understand the world around them.

With the Reggio Emilia approach, a child is considered a competent, capable and natural researcher who wants to learn and explore. To encourage this, many Reggio Emilia schools offer an Atelier for children to use.

What is an Atelier?

“Atelier” means “art studio” or “workshop” in French. A Reggio Emilia Atelier is a welcoming and inspiring place offering a wide variety of natural and man-made materials for artistic expression. Here, children of all ages come individually or in small groups to encounter experiences with these different media that will progressively support all their languages of expression. The early exploration of the visual arts offers children endless possibilities.

Inside the Atelier

In the Reggio Emilia approach, the environment is the third teacher. Nowhere is this more evident as in the Atelier. A bright and welcoming space, the Atelier is designated for children to explore and have fun. Materials such as clay, paper, fabric, wire, light, beads, shells, leaves and wood, among others, are available for children to explore as they see fit. The Atelier is designed to encourage collaboration as well as creativity, and children are can work together with their peers to complete a project or discover new ideas. In the Atelier, the mood is calm and inspiring. Children go at their own pace, and learn to problem-solve and express themselves without time limits or restrictions.

Ateliers are led by an Atelierista, a teacher who is a partner in the child’s artistic journey. The Atelierista encourages the child to experiment and create, and collaborates with individual children and small groups to support their ongoing learning. As part of the Reggio Emilia educational approach, the Atelierista documents each child’s process to further understand and celebrate their ideas.

The benefits of a Reggio Emilia Atelier

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

In addition to encouraging creativity and self-expression, the Atelier promotes other benefits for children. Exposure to art develops several important skills, including motor skills, cognitive development, and social and emotional skills.

Learn more about how KLA Schools’ Atelier works in tandem with other programs to help your child succeed.

Managing Your Child’s Allergies in the Classroom

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Managing Your Child’s Allergies in the Classroom

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), 1 in 13 American children have food allergies, and 42% of children have experienced a severe allergic reaction.

If your child has a food or environmental allergy, you may be concerned about their potential exposure while at school. Here are some ways you can help your child manage their food or environmental allergy in the classroom.

Consult your child’s pediatrician

Before the school year starts, visit your child’s doctor to discuss strategies for managing the allergy when in the classroom. Ensure any prescriptions are up to date, and get any notes or instructions from the doctor that your child’s school may require. You may also need to provide your child’s school with medications, an auto-injector, and/or an allergy action plan from your child’s doctor.

Talk to your child’s preschool teacher

As your partner in your child’s wellbeing, your child’s preschool is there to help your child manage their food allergies. Book a meeting to discuss your child’s allergies, work together on an action plan, and fill out any necessary forms. Be sure to ask about their policy on food, and how they have managed other children’s allergies in the past. Ask if their staff is trained in what to do in an emergency situation related to an allergy, whether in the classroom or on a field trip.

A good childcare center will not only have training and experience in children’s allergies, but they will have a strategy in place to help keep your child safe.

Teach your child basic steps to manage their allergy

Even young children can be taught basic ways to help keep them safe around things they’re allergic to. For example, you can teach them to wash their hands before and after eating, and not to share their food or utensils with others. Make sure they also know that they can talk to a trusted adult – such as their preschool teacher – if they’re not sure what to do, or if they don’t feel well.

Ensure your child is well-prepared

In addition to working with your child’s preschool teacher and teaching your child basic safety rules, you may want to ensure your child goes to school with items that can help them prevent an allergic reaction. Such items include safe, non-perishable snacks or a lunch, hand wipes, and allergy-friendly school supplies if necessary. Always ensure your child’s school has correct emergency contact information and an up-to-date photo of your child.

For more information about managing your child’s allergies, visit FARE’s website and KidsHealth for Parents.

7 Books for Animal-Loving Children

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7 Books for Animal-Loving Children

Children love animals, and have a natural curiosity about how they live, what they eat, and why they act the way they do. To help encourage this interest, here are some children’s picture books about animals that you can enjoy together.

My Big Animal Book
Age range: 1-4 years

This board book is a simple introduction to the world of animals. It features vivid photographs of animals, with their names printed underneath. Your child can begin to build their knowledge of animals as well as their vocabulary.

Touch and Feel: Jungle Animals
Age range: 2-5 years

Children learn through hands-on sensory experiences, and this book can help your child understand the difference between animals such as a furry tiger, a smooth-skinned frog, and a scaly snake.

Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals
Age range: 3-7 years

This book covers a wide range of topics related to animals, including their homes, their babies, and their sizes. Children will enjoy this book’s colorful illustrations and engaging text.

Hear Bear Roar 30 Animal Sound Book
Age range: 3-7 years

Your child can have an interactive reading experience with this book, by following along with the stories of each animal and pressing buttons to hear the noises each one makes.

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals
Age range: 4-8 years

Children will love the colorful pages and photographs of this book, as well as the basic information about each animal such as their size, where they live, and what they eat.

How to Be an Elephant
Age range: 7-11 years

The story of the first two years of an elephant’s life will offer a variety of interesting ideas to your child. This book shares the life of an elephant and its herd, while showing the various elements that go into living in the wild.

National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia
Age range: 8-12 years

Animal-loving children will enjoy this comprehensive book of animals, which features over 2,500 species. This book is a more detailed look at various mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and fish.

These informative books will teach your child compassion and empathy, while creating memories together. Start conversations with your child about these books, and help them learn more about animals.

Getting Organized for Back-to-School

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Getting Organized for Back-to-School

The start of a new school year is an exciting time for your child, but it’s also a time of change for the whole family. In order to help the first few weeks of school run smoother for everyone, here are some tips for getting organized for back-to-school.

Visualize your daily routine

To help you understand what you can organize, consider what a typical day will look like for your child and your whole family. What will the back-to-school morning routine look like? Will you also have to get ready to go to work? How much time will you have to complete all the necessary morning tasks? Next, visualize how school pick-up will work, as well as the evening and bedtime routines. It may help to write out your typical daily routine. This way, obvious organizational solutions may become apparent immediately.

Review your existing supplies

A new school year is a fun time for many children who enjoy shopping for new school supplies and clothes. However, you may not need to start from scratch this year. Together, you and your child can go through their existing clothes and any supplies like a backpack, lunch bag, water bottle, crayons, or pencils. If there are items that your child has outgrown or worn out, then you only need to spend your time and money replacing just those items.

Create school-specific spaces in your home

Creating small areas of school-specific organization can help everyone stay on track. For example, you can create an area of your child’s closet dedicated to their school supplies, or ensure that your home’s entryway is where your child’s backpack and school shoes are placed every night. You can further customize these spaces based on your typical weekday schedule – consider the areas in your home that can be streamlined and organized to help everyone have an easier time each day.

Make a family schedule

Writing out your family’s school-year schedule is a great way for everyone to help stay on top of things on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Post this schedule where everyone can see it, and if your child is too young to read, you can use illustrations or fun stickers to help them understand what they need to do each day. A family schedule can help to avoid time management conflicts, and is also a good way to use everyone’s time more efficiently.

Plan and prep meals in advance

Weekdays during the school year can be hectic as everyone adjusts to their new routine. To help save yourself time and hassle, consider planning and prepping your lunches and dinners in advance. The ideal time to do this is on a day where you can devote an hour or two to the task, such as a Sunday evening.

For example, you can cook a large batch of chili or a casserole and freeze portions for your next few dinners. For your child’s lunches, you can get ready the night before by washing and chopping veggies, preparing sandwiches, and sorting snacks into plastic baggies. This way, you can quickly grab and go in the morning.

No matter your family’s size or schedule, there are likely ways you can get organized for back-to-school. These five tips can be ideal ways to help start the school year on a more relaxed and efficient footing.

Keeping Your Child Entertained While Traveling

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Keeping Your Child Entertained While Traveling

This summer, many families will be enjoying family vacations and day trips. If you’re traveling this summer, you may be wondering how you can keep your child entertained and happy when they’re away from their normal routine. Here are some tips for keeping your child entertained while traveling.

  • Listen to audiobooks. When driving for long distances, a child-friendly audiobook can be a great way to pass the time and keep your child from getting bored.
  • Load up on books. If you’re traveling by airplane or train, or your child doesn’t get motion sickness in the car, your trip is a good time to let your child indulge in their love of reading.
  • Bring new or interesting toys and activities. If your child gets bored or antsy during travel, a new toy or game can be an ideal distraction and something for them to look forward to.
  • Consider relaxing your rules on screen time. If you have screen time restrictions at home, you might consider loosening them on a long journey. Bring some child-sized headphones and give your child the chance to watch their favorite videos.
  • Create travel kits. Whether you’re traveling by car, train, or airplane, consider packing portable activity kits that won’t take up much room or make much mess. You can even customize the toys and activities based on where you’re going.
  • Give your child a map. Children love to feel involved, and being able to see the journey’s progress can help to keep them engaged. You can give your child a roadmap with your route marked out, or show them on the airplane’s map where you are.
  • Take breaks if possible. Whenever you can, take a break to get out of the car and run around, or walk up and down the aisles in the plane or train. This will help your child burn off energy and alleviate boredom.
  • Sing songs. Children love music and songs, and a trip is a great chance to sing their favorite songs along with them.
  • Play car games. No matter how you’re getting to your destination, you can play classic car games such as Would You Rather? or I Spy.
  • Play travel bingo. Create a travel bingo sheet containing things such as landmarks, car colors, or road signs, and give your child the fun task of looking out for these things along the way.
  • Pack lots of snacks. Healthy and delicious snacks can go a long way in keeping your child’s spirits up on a trip.
  • Talk about your destination. Whether you’re going to visit grandparents or Mickey Mouse, there is likely something at your destination your child will be excited about. Take advantage of your journey to talk about what to expect when you arrive.

When traveling with children, plan ahead as much as you can, be patient, and do your best. These tips for keeping your child entertained can help this summer’s vacation run smoothly.

6 Tips to Help Your Child Adjust to Back-to-School

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Helping Your Child Adjust to Back-to-School

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

1) Get into a routine

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

2) Practice

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

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

3) Read back-to-school books

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

4) Team up with other parents

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

5) Discuss your child’s feelings

Going back to school is a big transition for any child, and they might feel nervous, excited, embarrassed, optimistic, insecure, vulnerable, curious – or all of the above. Whatever your child is feeling, it’s important to show your support by having open and honest discussions. Ask open-ended questions such as, “What are you thinking about the most when you think about going back to school?” or “How did you feel in school today?” If your child is worried or shy, it can be tempting to bolster their self-esteem. However, it’s more useful to respond with compassion and empathy, and help them to find ways they can cope. For example, you can say, “I remember feeling really shy on my first day of school too, and it took a few days for everyone to start playing together. Do you think you can practice by just saying hi to your new friend tomorrow, or sitting next to them during storytime?”

6) Be patient

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

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

Fourth of July Books for Children

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Fourth of July Books for Children

The Fourth of July is an exciting time, and children love all the celebrations that go along with it. However, it can also be an ideal opportunity to spend some quality time with your child that’s fun and educational. Here are some books you can read together to help your child learn more about Independence Day.

Corduroy’s Fourth of July
Age range: 2-3 years

Children love the adventures of Corduroy, and this book will help children learn about all the fun they can expect to have on the Fourth of July. The bright colors and simple text make it enjoyable for toddlers to read with you.

The Night Before the Fourth of July
Age range: 3-5 years

Inspired by The Night Before Christmas, this book follows a family as they get ready for their Fourth of July celebrations. Children will learn about the events of the day while enjoying the rhyming story.

John, Paul, George & Ben
Age range: 3-7 years

While this book isn’t a strictly accurate retelling of the famous founding fathers, children and parents alike will enjoy it. Its light and fun tone will inspire your child to learn more, and parents will appreciate the humor as well.

Hats Off for the Fourth of July
Age range: 3 – 8 years

With rhyming text and vivid illustrations, this book helps children learn about all the fun of an Independence Day parade.

Apple Pie Fourth of July
Age range: 4-7 years

Whether your family is new to the USA or has been living here for generations, this book helps your child learn about the way different cultures can incorporate their own traditions into the Fourth of July.

Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies
Age range: 6-10 years

Many of us know the stories of America’s founding fathers such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. This book shares stories of some of the women who also had an important role to play in the American Revolution.

These books are just a selection from the wide variety of Fourth of July books for children that are available. This Independence Day, enjoy the celebrations while helping your child learn more about the importance of the day.

Tips for Young Children and Dental Health

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Tips for Young Children and Dental Health

As a parent, you know your child’s oral health is important. However, many parents are unsure of the best ways to promote good dental health, especially with younger children. Here are some tips to help your young child prevent cavities and develop good dental health habits.

Make brushing fun

Many of us remember disliking brushing our teeth as a child, most likely because we were made to think of it as a chore. To help your child feel more comfortable with brushing their teeth, try making it fun. You can try playing your child’s favorite music while they brush their teeth, or play “Monkey See, Monkey Do” while you and your child brush together. Something as seemingly minor as letting your child pick their own toothbrush in the store can help them to feel a sense of ownership over the process.

Brush with proper technique

A lot of people brush their teeth with heavy pressure. Not only can this damage your gums, but it can also make children resist when it’s time to brush. The American Dental Association recommends we brush our teeth with a soft-bristled brush, and place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth, gently moving it back and forth in short strokes.

It’s recommended that teeth are brushed for two minutes, but young children may not be able to brush that long. Focus on proper technique and reaching all your child’s teeth.

Review your child’s eating habits

A diet that’s low in sugar is essential for good oral hygiene in children. Look for ways to reduce your child’s sugar consumption. For example, instead of fruit juice, try water with citrus fruit, or limit candy as treats for very special occasions. Use this as an opportunity to teach your kid about the health of their teeth. You may be surprised at your child’s willingness to take steps to improve their own oral health.

Choose the right dentist for your child

As adults, we’re used to visiting the dentist. Many of us don’t mind which one we choose. However, pediatric dentistry comes with its own host of considerations, including temperament. This is particularly true if your child is afraid of the dentist.

Look for a dentist who has experience treating children. The ideal dentist for your child will be friendly, patient, and helps to educate them. Another sign of a good pediatric dentist is a child-friendly waiting room and environment. Meet your prospective dentist beforehand and see how they interact with your child.

Model good dental hygiene

Your child will feel much more comfortable with oral hygiene if they see how you maintain your own. Make sure your child sees you brush and floss regularly, reduce sugar in your diet, and maintain your own dentist appointments. Even if you have anxiety over dentist visits yourself, it’s important to stay positive and not let your own fears transfer to your child. Stay positive and encouraging, and your child will learn that good dental hygiene can be fun.

Benefits of Enrichment Programs for Children

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Benefits of Enrichment Programs for Children

Many parents are looking for a preschool or elementary school that offers enrichment programs to give their child a well-rounded education. Here are some of the benefits of enrichment programs for children.

Better performance in school

According to a study by psychologists Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell and Dr. Jill Posner, enrichment activities can help children develop skills that help them perform better in school. The study found that children who had access to structured after-school enrichment activities had better work habits than children in the study who didn’t take part in these activities. They also had higher grades than other children in the study. Enrichment activities can help teach children skills such as concentration, persistence, and problem-solving, which can help them to do better in other areas of their education.

Increased social skills

Enrichment programs can be a fun way for your child to learn, but they also help them learn valuable social skills. In a long-term research study, Dr. Milbrey McLaughlin noted that, in extracurricular and enrichment programs, teachers were not only showing children how to perform the task at hand, but were also teaching them secondary skills such as communication. A good enrichment program for your child will encourage group collaboration and cooperation. For example, KLA Schools’ Atelier encourages children to experience visual arts in small groups, exploring new ideas together.

Greater fine and gross motor skills

Enrichment programs can help your child develop their fine and gross motor skills.  Activities such as painting and using musical instruments develop fine motor skills such as dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Physical activities such as dance and sports strengthen gross motor skills. Running, hopping, jumping, and moving give children opportunities to express themselves physically while developing a range of skills.

Self-expression and creativity

Many enrichment programs, such as art, music, and dance, allow children to express themselves in new ways they may not normally be exposed to. This self-expression leads to a greater exploration of creativity. Enrichment programs help your child learn more about themselves and how they can express their feelings and thoughts in a creative way. Increased self-expression and creativity can also lead to increased confidence.

Language, literacy, and math skills

Many extracurricular and enrichment programs offer language and math programs. But did you know that other enrichment programs can strengthen these skills as well? For example, music can build several related skills, such as language, and literacy. In addition, the recognition of patterns and shapes in music is a building block in developing strong math skills.

Extracurricular and enrichment programs are an ideal way for your child to broaden their horizons and learn more about their world. They also offer a host of benefits that can stay with your child as they grow. Learn more about KLA Schools’ extracurricular and enrichment programs for your child.

 

Transitioning into a Summer Family Routine

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Transitioning into a Summer Family Routine

For many families, the start of summer means different schedules, activities, and priorities. While your child may be looking forward to longer days and summer vacations, a routine is still important. According to Dr. Peter Gorski of Harvard Medical School, knowing what to expect from daily life can develop a child’s confidence. A regular routine can also reduce their stress and help them gain greater self-control.

Here are a few ways you can transition from your family’s school routine to the summer routine.

Discuss your child’s feelings

According to psychologist Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, changes can be difficult for children, even if the changes are good. Children may feel sad about leaving their classmates or teachers, or may feel anxiety when leaving their familiar environment. They may also feel nervous about a milestone when the next school year starts, such as a child who is leaving preschool and starting Kindergarten.

Begin to discuss the transition with your child, and encourage them to talk about how they feel. Listen respectfully and let them know that whatever they are feeling is okay. You can also help your child by sharing stories of a time you overcame a fear, or reminding them about a time they dealt with a scary situation.

Retain elements of their school-year routine

Your child may have an easier time transitioning into their summer routine if it contains familiar elements from their school-year routine. You may not drop your child off at school every day during the summer, but you can make a habit of daily walks around the area after lunch. You can also maintain their school-year morning or evening routines, such as the time they wake up and eat breakfast, or choosing their outfits the night before.

Your child may also enjoy setting up part of their day as if they were still at school. For example, if your child was fond of drawing and painting at school, you can work on art projects together during the summer. Talk to your child’s teacher for suggestions on carrying over your child’s favorite school activities to home.

Keep in touch with friends

School is a fun social environment for most children, and there is often no reason why they can’t see their friends on a regular basis during the summer. Talk to the parents of one or two of your child’s closest friends and see if you can arrange regular play dates, perhaps weekly or twice per month. You may also consider enrolling your children in a summer activity together, such as swimming lessons or art classes. This way, not only will your child have a regular activity as part of their summer routine, but they’ll be able to stay in touch with their friends.

Create a summer family calendar

Part of the reason a routine is important for children is that it helps them to prepare for the events in their lives, whether these are everyday occurrences or less regular occasions. Creating a summer family calendar can provide a quick, at-a-glance way for your child to understand what they can expect during the next few weeks. This is an ideal activity for the whole family. Spend some time together creating a visual calendar where everyone can see classes, trips, meals, and other important things. Keep this calendar in a place where every family member can reference it often.

As always, the ideal summer schedule depends on your family. Sit down together and discuss your goals for the summer, and what you hope to accomplish. Everyone is different, but together you can transition into a summer family routine that works for you.

Easy Recipes to Make With Your Child

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Easy Recipes to Make With Your Child

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

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

Mini Chicken Parm Sandwiches

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

Omelettes

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

Build Your Own Quesadillas

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

Get the quesadilla recipe here.

Baked Parmesan Zucchini

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

Get the Baked Parmesan Zucchini recipe here.

Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

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

Get the Teriyaki Meatball Bowls recipe here.

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

Summer Camp Checklist

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Summer Camp Checklist

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

What to bring to summer camp

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

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

What not to bring to summer camp

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

Tips for packing for summer camp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Give Preschoolers More Independence

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How to Give Preschoolers More Independence

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

Here are some ways to give your preschooler more independence.

Continue to demonstrate respect to your child

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

Allow your child to be bored

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

Start slowly if necessary

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

Provide a safe space for experimentation

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

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

Encouraging Young Children to Cooperate With Others

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Encouraging Young Children to Cooperate With Others

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

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

Model cooperative behavior

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

Point out the benefits of cooperation

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

Play cooperative games

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

Get your child involved in chores

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

Talk to your child’s preschool teacher

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

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

Making Everyday Errands Educational

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Making Everyday Errands Educational

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

Play games like I Spy

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

Get your child involved

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

Give them a tool

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

Read aloud

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

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

Springtime Sensory Play Ideas

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Springtime Sensory Play Ideas

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

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

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

Sensory spring garden

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

Sensory spring creatures bin

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

Sensory spring water table

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

Easter sensory table

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

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

The Benefits of a Reggio Emilia Preschool

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The Benefits of a Reggio Emilia Preschool

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

What is the Reggio Emilia educational approach?

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

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

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

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

Guiding principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach

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

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

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

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

Benefits of a Reggio Emilia preschool

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

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

Five Springtime Activities for the Family

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Five Springtime Activities for the Family

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

Explore your town

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

Learn about other cultures

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

Spend an afternoon in the park

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

Discover nature

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

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

Investigate your local library or community center

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

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

Keeping Young Children Safe on YouTube

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Keeping Young Children Safe on YouTube

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

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

  1. Use parental controls

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

  1. Download YouTube Kids

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

  1. Disable search on YouTube Kids

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

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

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

  1. Try another video app or website

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

What to do if your child sees a disturbing YouTube video

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

Tips for Positive Parenting

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Tips for Positive Parenting

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

The benefits of positive parenting

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

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

Model positive behavior

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

See things from your child’s point of view

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

Praise your child’s good behavior

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

Set realistic rules, and discuss them early

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

Discipline with empathy

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

Use logical consequences for their actions

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

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

Democratic parenting

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Democratic parenting

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

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

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

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

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

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

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Ideas for Decorating Your Child’s Bedroom

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Ideas for Decorating Your Child's Bedroom

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

Try wall decals

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

Colorful furniture and accessories

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

Create DIY artwork

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

No-Sew Rainbow Wall Hanging from Imagine Gnats

Silhouette Canvas Artwork from HGTV

DIY Circle Punch Art from Mer Mag

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

Homemade chalkboard

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

Dedicated play area

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

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

Handling Toddler Separation Anxiety

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Handling Toddler Separation Anxiety

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

Signs of separation anxiety include:

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

How to alleviate toddler separation anxiety

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

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

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

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

How to Deal With Bedwetting

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How to Deal With Bedwetting

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

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

Reassure your child

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

Look at your family history

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

Is your child stressed?

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

Reduce liquids and caffeine before bed

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

Create a bedtime routine for success

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

Bring your child to the toilet at night

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

When should you see your doctor?

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

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

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

Valentine’s Day Projects To Do With Your Child

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Valentine's Day Projects To Do With Your Child

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

Heart Stamp

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

Materials

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

Instructions

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

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

Tissue Paper Heart Collage

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

Materials

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

Instructions

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

 Yarn Hearts

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

Materials

  • Cardboard
  • Pink or red yarn
  • Scotch tape

Instructions

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

Foam Heart Friendship Necklaces

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

Get the tutorial for Foam Heart Friendship Necklaces here.

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

Ten Family Bonding Ideas

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Ten Family Bonding Ideas

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

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

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

The way we communicate with others

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The way we communicate with others

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

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

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

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

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

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

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

How Meditation Helps Children

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How Meditation Helps Children

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

Improved attention and behavior

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

Reduced stress and improved mental health

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

Greater empathy and self-awareness

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

Better physical health

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

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

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

Cozy Winter Meals for Preschoolers

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Cozy Winter Meals for Preschoolers

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

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup 

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

One Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

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

Get the One Pot Pizza Pasta Bake recipe here.

Pizza Crescent Rolls

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

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

Muffin Tin Meatloaf

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

Asian Noodles With Peanut Sauce

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

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

Time-Saving Dinner Ideas for Busy Families

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Time-Saving Dinner Ideas for Busy Families

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

Stir-fry

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

Breakfast for dinner

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

Roast chicken

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

No-cook meals

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

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

Encouraging Healthy Habits in Children

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Encouraging Healthy Habits in Children

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

Physical health

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

Mental and emotional health

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

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