School-Year Safety Tips

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School-Year Safety Tips

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

Walking to school safety tips

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

Driving to school safety tips

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

Riding the school bus safety tips

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

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

Safety tips at school

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

  • Don’t label your child’s clothing or backpack with their name in a visible location.
  • Depending on the age of your child, ensure they know their full name, their address, your full name, and how to reach you. It can also be useful for them to know the name and contact info of a trusted neighbor or family member.
  • Discover and familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures in place at your child’s school.
  • A child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of your child’s weight, and should be carried on both shoulders.
  • If possible, inspect the playground facilities at your child’s school. Ensure that there are no areas where your child could trip, get cut, hit their head, fall, or play unsupervised.
  • Teach your child the basics of playground safety, such as no running while on the equipment, ensuring they hold on to any hand or guardrails, and to watch out for other children.
  • Dress your child appropriately for the weather conditions. This may involve sending an extra sweater or rain boots to school with your child.
  • If your child’s school doesn’t provide access to a refrigerator, ensure that any packed lunches or snacks will not spoil during the day.

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

Getting Your Child Involved in Community Projects

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Getting Your Child Involved in Community Projects

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

Start with neighbors

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

Clean up

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

Donate toys, clothes, and games

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

Write letters

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

Volunteer with child-friendly organizations

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

Team up with your child’s school

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

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

Helping our children to transition into a new school year

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Helping our children to transition into a new school year

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

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

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

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

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

Books to Help Your Child Learn About Letters

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Books to Help Your Child Learn About Letters

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

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

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

Age Range: 1 – 4 years

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

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

Age Range: 2 – 6 years

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

Alphabet Rescue by Audrey Wood

Age Range: 3 – 5 years

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

Letter Tracing for Preschoolers by S Mallory

Age Range: 3 – 5 years

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

Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss

Age Range: 3 – 7 years

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

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

Helping Your Child Adjust to Back-to-School

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Helping Your Child Adjust to Back-to-School

Whether your young child is attending preschool for the first time or returning to school, the transition period takes many factors into account. Here are some ways you can help your child have an easier back-to-school adjustment period.

Read books about back-to-school

Reading books together can help your child feel less anxious about going back to school. There are many good back-to-school books for children of all ages. These books will show children what they can expect, and help them feel that the new school environment doesn’t have to be scary. When reading these books, discuss your child’s feelings, and respectfully and calmly address them.

Create a new routine

You can ease your child into their school-year routine during the first few days. You may want to create your school-days morning routine with small adjustments such as eating breakfast together at the same time each morning. This predictable back-to-school routine will remove one area of potential stress from your child’s life, and they can focus on other parts of their new school life with more confidence.

Practice the routine

Together, you and your child can practice their new routine. For example, you can walk or drive the route to school and back, pack their backpack, and prepare lunches or snacks. This can help your child familiarize themselves with the process and reduce their anxiety.

Some children need longer adjustment periods than others. 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.

Team up with other parents

If you know other parents whose children will be classmates of yours, 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 hold a back-to-school party for them. These things can help your child feel less scared about who they will play with or talk to at school. As the days go by and your child makes new friends, be sure to include these children in regular playdates to help your child strengthen their friendships.

Be patient

Going back to school is a major adjustment for every child, and it may even take several weeks. Stay positive and supportive during this transition period. Discuss your child’s feelings and listen to their concerns. You can ask your child’s teacher for advice on handling this transitional time. Here are some other ways you can help your child adjust to going back to school.

Going back to school is an important event for children, and there are many emotions involved. With these tips, you can help your child get ready for back-to-school and help them adjust easier.

7 Dramatic Play Ideas for Preschoolers

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7 Dramatic Play Ideas for Preschoolers

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

Library Pretend Play

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

Grocery Store Pretend Play

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

Veterinarian Pretend Play

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

Restaurant Pretend Play

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

Dinosaur Dig Pretend Play

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

Preschool Pretend Play

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

Storybook Pretend Play

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

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

Back-to-School Books for Children

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Back-to-School Books for Children

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

The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing

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

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

Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten by Candice Ransom

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

The Berenstain Bears Go to School by Stan and Jan Berenstain

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

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

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

School’s First Day of School by Christian Robinson

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

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

Punishments and consequences are not the same

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

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

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

6 Summer Day Trip Ideas for Families

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6 Summer Day Trip Ideas for Families

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

State or county fair

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

National park

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

Water park or beach

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

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

Theme park

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

Hiking

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

Museums

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

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

Camping with Kids? Here’s What You Should Know

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Camping with Kids? Here's What You Should Know

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

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

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

Teaching Your Young Child to Recycle

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Teaching Your Young Child to Recycle

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there were 89 million tons of waste recycled and composted in 2014, which resulted in “an annual reduction of over 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, comparable to the annual emissions from over 38 million passenger cars.” These reduced emissions are just one of the benefits of regular recycling, and today it’s easier than ever to get the entire family involved.

Here are some ways you can teach your young child to recycle.

Read books about recycling

Many parents want to talk to their children about recycling, but aren’t sure how to explain it in a way they’ll understand. There are many children’s books available that discuss recycling in an engaging, age-appropriate way. Try these books about recycling for children:

Make recycling fun

Parents know that the attention spans of young children are short. To help your children get involved with recycling, find ways to make the process fun for them. For example, you may want to create your own recycling bins which your child can decorate. Pictures of the sorts of items that go in each bin will help make it easy for your child to sort paper, plastic, and aluminum. Not only is this a fun activity that will help your child express their creativity, it will also give them a sense of ownership in the recycling process.

Visit a recycling center

Many children have trouble visualizing a large and complicated process such as recycling. If possible, take the family and tour your local recycling center. This will help your child understand exactly how recycling works, and it is a perfect time for them to ask questions of people who work there. Many recycling centers also offer family volunteering opportunities, as well.

Investigate recycling opportunities in your child’s preschool

Visit your child’s preschool and see how they approach recycling. Is it a process that is limited to the adults only, or do the children get involved, as well? Many preschools offer forms of community service as part of their philosophy and educational approach. Discuss the possibility of your child’s preschool forming a partnership with a local recycling center or volunteer organization.

Regular exposure to the concept and importance of recycling can go a long way in helping your child learn more. Reading books about recycling, getting your child more involved, visiting a local facility, and working with your child’s preschool will all help your child to adopt recycling as a regular habit.

Fourth of July Safety Tips for Children

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Fourth of July Safety Tips for Children

This Fourth of July, families all across the nation are planning their celebrations. Whether you’re going to host a barbecue, enjoy a day at the beach, or take in some fireworks, keep these important tips in mind to ensure your Fourth of July is safe for your children.

Fireworks safety for children

According to Parenting, backyard sparklers are a leading cause of the fireworks-related burns and injuries suffered by 30 percent of children each year. It’s safest to attend a public, professional fireworks show. The Red Cross recommends keeping at least 500 feet back from the show. However, if you want to enjoy fireworks at home, FEMA offers these important safety rules to follow:

  1. Be sure fireworks are legal in your area before using or buying them.
  2. Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  3. If you set off fireworks, keep a bucket of water handy in case of malfunction or fire.
  4. If fireworks malfunction, don’t relight them! Douse and soak them with water then throw them away.
  5. Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one that is glass or metal.

If you are using backyard sparklers, limit their use to children older than 12. Have your child hold the sparkler at arm’s length, and don’t allow them to run or wave the sparkler around. Remember that a sparkler is still hot enough to burn when it is spent, so ensure that it goes directly into a bucket of water. Never leave children unattended with sparklers.

Beach safety for children

Spending your Fourth of July relaxing on the beach is fun for the entire family. First and foremost, ensure your child is safe in and around the water with our water safety tips for young children. The Red Cross recommends families only swim at beaches with lifeguards, and that all family members follow the lifeguard’s instructions. Swimming in a lake or ocean comes with its own risks, such as waves, strong currents, uneven ground, and aquatic life.

Barbecue safety for children

An afternoon spent grilling hot dogs and hamburgers with family and friends is a classic Fourth of July activity. To keep children safe, designate a “child-free zone” of three feet around the grill, and ensure that they are being supervised so they don’t accidentally run too close. Explain to your child that the grill is dangerous and can burn them, even after it’s been turned off. As always, never leave your barbecue unattended, and grill outdoors only.

No matter how your family celebrates Independence Day, always remember to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. If you would like some other celebration ideas, read our blog post with seven fireworks-free Fourth of July ideas for children.

Young Children and Water Safety

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Young Children and Water Safety

There is nothing more refreshing in the summer heat than a splash in the pool. However, according to the National SAFE Kids Campaign and the National Safety Council, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4 years and 10-14 years. Most infants under the age of 1 drown in bathtubs.

There are several things that families can do to help children stay safe in the water, both in the summer and year-round. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to water safety and young children.

Supervise your child at all times

Even if your child can swim, it’s important to stay within arm’s reach and remain attentive when they are near water. Even during a summer pool party when there are many people around, it’s important to not assume your child is being supervised. The American Academy of Pediatrics “feels strongly that parents should never—even for a moment—leave children alone near open bodies of water, such as lakes or swimming pools, nor near water in homes (bathtubs, spas).”

Recognize the signs of drowning

Thanks to TV and movies, many people assume that it’s obvious when a person is drowning. However, the opposite is true. Rather than splashing around and making noise, a drowning person is more likely to slip underwater silently, in a matter of seconds. Young children can drown in less than two inches of water – this means that seemingly harmless items such as mop buckets, ornamental ponds, water-filled ditches, and toilets can pose a drowning risk for children.

Consider swimming lessons

While swimming ability does not remove the risk of drowning, it can help your child learn valuable skills and become more comfortable in the water. Look for swimming lessons that also teach water safety skills such as how to identify risks while swimming, and what to do if they fall into the water.

Use water safety devices, but don’t rely on them

Children should always wear properly-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets when near water, but these are not a substitute for parental supervision or swimming skills. Similarly, inflatable pool toys and devices such as water wings are not drown-proof. They can become slippery, or deflate.

Keep home swimming pools safe

Your child should not be able to accidentally get into the family swimming pool without your assistance and supervision. Ensure they are covered and properly fenced. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, fences should:

  • Stand at least four feet high with no foot or handrails for children to climb on.
  • Have slats fewer than four inches apart so a child can’t get through, or if chain link, should have no opening larger than 1¾ inches.
  • Have self-closing and self-latching gates, which are out of your child’s reach.

Learn emergency skills

Because drowning can happen quickly, parents should learn how to swim and be able to rescue a child if necessary. It is also advisable to learn CPR skills. It’s also important to have emergency equipment on-hand at a home swimming pool, such as a first-aid kit, lifejackets, and a cell phone to quickly call 911 in an emergency.

Water hazards are a serious risk for every child, whether or not they know how to swim. With these basic water safety tips, you can help to ensure your child’s summer swimming is fun and – most importantly – safe.

Welcome

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

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

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

Delicious and Healthy Summer Snacks for Children

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Delicious and Healthy Summer Snacks for Children

Summer days are long, and whether your family is spending the day relaxing, or rushing around to different activities, snacks are essential to keep your child’s energy up. It can be easy to grab a bag of chips or a candy bar to keep your child happy, but these summer snacks are delicious and healthy alternatives.

Homemade ice pops

Children love ice pops, but parents often don’t love the added sugar. With an inexpensive and reusable ice pop mold, you can have more control over the ingredients of your child’s favorite summer snack. Here are some ideas for homemade ice pops:

  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt and ½ cup frozen berries, blended together
  • ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt, two ripe bananas, and ¼ cup of peanut butter, blended together
  • 2 cups of almond or coconut milk, two ripe bananas, and honey to taste, blended together
  • 2 cups of orange juice, 2 cups fruit of your choice, blended together

Veggies and dip

According to a study by the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State University, 64% of children were more likely to eat a vegetable if paired with their favorite dip.

Many families opt for store-bought dips such as hummus or guacamole, but you can also make your own dips based on your child’s preferences. For example, you can grate half a cucumber, and mix it with half to a quarter cup of plain yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice. If your child finds the flavors of traditional dips such as guacamole too strong, you may want to make your own and adjust the ingredients.

Snack wraps

Busy families love wraps because they are infinitely customizable and often require no cooking at all. Try these fillings next time your child needs a quick snack:

  • Plain or herbed cream cheese with your child’s favorite raw vegetables
  • Hummus with pre-cooked chicken breasts and cucumber
  • Peanut butter with banana slices

Peanut butter and banana cookies

Using only oats, powdered peanut butter, and bananas, these homemade cookies are quick and easy. If you have a picky eater, the peanut butter will add a familiar and pleasing flavor to the oats and bananas. You can also add in other ingredients such as raisins and walnuts.

Get the recipe for 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Banana Cookies

Healthy mini muffins

Many store-bought muffins are high in sugar and low in nutritious ingredients. However, making a batch of muffins at home doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, and you can decide which ingredients are added. Mini muffins are a great snack that are also portable, so you can prevent hunger-based meltdowns when you and your child are on the go.

Try these Healthy Toddler-Friendly Mini Muffins from The Busy Baker.

Summertime snacks should be light and easy to make. With these ideas for delicious and healthy summer snacks, you can ensure your child gets the energy and nutrition they need to help them enjoy their summertime activities.

5 Preschool Art Projects Using Natural Materials

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5 Preschool Art Projects Using Natural Materials

With the warmer weather upon us, it is an ideal time to try some new arts and crafts projects with your preschooler. Using a few simple craft items as well as plenty of materials found in the great outdoors, these five art projects are fun and easy.

Rock or Shell Sculpture

Whether you’re on the beach or strolling in the park, small natural materials such as shells and rocks are perfect for creating sculptures and interesting formations. Your child may want to build vertically, or focus on designing interesting shapes or patterns on the ground – which will help them to develop their math skills. With a myriad of colors, shapes, and textures, the possibilities are limitless.

Twig Raft

Your preschooler can get involved in creating this craft by finding similarly-sized twigs outside, and then you can build the raft using hot glue, twine, and felt. This art project is not only fun to create, but it becomes a toy as well – something your preschooler will enjoy even more.

Watch a how-to video on Parents’ website.

Leaf Paintbrushes

A natural paintbrush made of leaves is a fun way to use natural materials as both the art project, and a means of creating more art. You will need some twigs, twine, and leaves. Experiment with different types of leaves and ask your child what sorts of patterns each leaf texture makes.

Learn how to make leaf paintbrushes at Learning 4 Kids.

Leaf Prints

Similarly to the leaf paintbrushes, these leaf prints use the leaf itself to create the art. Aside from leaves, all you’ll need is some child-friendly paint, paper plates, and large pieces of paper. You may also want to cover your work area with some newspaper to catch paint drips. Have your child collect leaves in a variety of interesting shapes and sizes. Pour out some paint onto paper plates and let your child paint their leaves however they would like. Then, turn the leaf paint-side down onto the paper. Have your child press down on all areas of the leaf to ensure good coverage. Slowly lift the leaf off the paper, and see what colorful creation your child has made.

Flower Suncatcher

The colors, patterns. and shapes of flowers can spark a preschooler’s imagination. With paper plates, scissors, transparent contact paper, a hole punch, and yarn, you can create a beautiful floral art project that the whole family can enjoy. These suncatchers also make a thoughtful gift for family and friends.

Find out how to make a flower suncatcher at The Artful Parent.

Children love to learn about the world around them. These five art projects use materials easily found outdoors, and are an ideal way for your child to discover nature.

What is to misbehave? What does it mean when someone says that a child behaves badly?

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What is it to misbehave?

 

Many people repeat over and over again that their children have “bad behavior,” without trying to go further and find out what that behavior wants to tell us.

Many times, children are hungry, sleepy, something is bothering them or they are just being children. But what is a bad behavior? Does a child know if he is misbehaving? What message is given to children when they are told they are behaving badly? What do we want to achieve with this? What was the cause of this behavior? In my opinion, a behavior is only a problem when it interferes with the safety of the child or the safety of the people around him. The fact that a behavior can be annoying or irritating for someone does not mean that it is a bad behavior. For example, take a minute and think about this scenario: a child is making a repetitive sound with an object. Let’s pretend that there is an adult close to the child, the adult is tired after a long day at work and has a headache; so, if the sound bothers him, he will tell the child to stop doing it. This does not mean that the child is behaving badly. The child is simply exploring and making use of his senses. Situations like these are presented to us every day, and we often ask children to stop doing something, not because they should not do it, but because it can bother us at a particular moment.

We must analyze and go beyond our perception. It would be very valuable if we asked ourselves how many behaviors would not be considered a problem anymore if we took this analysis into account. (Children swinging, moving from one side to another, looking towards the ceiling while we read a story, children not walking in a straight line, children throwing the same object over and over again to see how they fall or to explore the sound that object makes. Let’s be clear, these moments that are occuring are not dangerous and are not putting children’s safety at risk).

Many people can be very harsh with what they express, for example: “you are a bad boy” or “you look very ugly when you act like this,” “if you keep doing that I will not love you.”

These messages can be very powerful and drastically affect the child’s self-esteem. So, I suggest that we take great care of our language. The way we express ourselves makes a difference in the way we see and think about children, as well as the difference with respect to the emotional bond we have with them. Children need to know that they are safe with us, that we love them and that we will always support them (no matter what, our love for them it is not negotiable) even if we find the behavior they are exhibiting undesirable. It is vital to separate the feelings you are expressing about the behavior from your feelings for the child.

It is important to be empathetic and understanding, in order to communicate what we expect of them and anticipate what is going to happen. For example, if we are going to cross the street, it is necessary that our child grabs our hand. Clearly explain to him why he should grab your hand without any negotiations. Depending on their age, children may be more alert or aware of the danger. In other cases, we can find situations in which children are mounted on a table or chair, to play or see everything from above, exposing themselves to danger.  It is important to be firm and explain why it is dangerous and why we should not do that, for example: “if we get on the table we can fall and get hurt very badly.” We can also give them an alternative and offer them our arms to carry them, in case they want to see everything from another perspective. Many times, what they seek is to explore instead of “behaving badly”. Remember to save a special “firm” voice for moments when your child is in danger. They will then understand the severity of this situation as opposed to when you are correcting a behavior that can be discussed more (i.e. singing really loudly when you have a headache)

It is much more enriching to take advantage of every opportunity for them to learn and know that we understand them, without making them feel judged and misunderstood. When the physical, emotional, social and cognitive needs of our children are met, they have no need or desire to behave in any way that could bother us at all.

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

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

Tips for Vacationing With Young Children

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Tips for Vacationing With Young Children

Family vacations are an ideal time to bond and build memories that will last a lifetime. However, many parents of young children experience anxiety over the thought of traveling with their child. If you are planning your first family trip or would like tips to help your next one go smoother, here are some tips for vacationing with young children.

Prepare for your journey in advance

Getting to and from your final destination can feel like a journey in itself if you have young children. However, a few decisions such as packing games, bringing extra clothes, and doing as much as possible before you leave can alleviate the stress. Read our tips for traveling with young children to help make your plane, car, or train ride easier on everyone.

Visiting your child’s doctor is recommended at least two months before you leave. This way, you can be sure that any vaccinations or medication needs will be sorted out well before you need to worry about it.

Look for child-friendly accommodation

If you’re not staying with family or friends, finding child-friendly accommodation can help your family vacation run smoother. Look for a hotel or vacation apartment that offers child-friendly amenities such as a pool or games room – and family-friendly services such as laundry or in-room kitchens. A kid friendly on-site restaurant is ideal, as well. Consider also the neighborhood the accommodation is in. Is it within walking or easy transit distance to interesting attractions such as parks, playgrounds, and restaurants? Being able to get around easily will save you time and money.

Be flexible with your schedule and activities

There are few things less relaxing for children and parents alike than large crowds and long lineups. While traditional vacation times such as spring break are popular with everyone, you can book a family vacation that is less complicated. If you are able to move your vacation dates by a few days, you may be able to miss the rush, and save some money too. Consider visiting attractions at off-peak hours, if possible.

Being flexible with your vacation activities is also key to enjoying your trip. Before children, your vacations may have been packed with sightseeing, meals out, and varied activities. However, a vacation with a toddler or preschooler may look quite different. Instead of making a rigid plan full of activities, many families find it easier to write down things they would like to do, while remaining open to the possibility that naps, fussiness, or a simple change in mood may take priority.

Let your child bring comfort items

Family vacations are exciting, but toddlers and preschoolers can also get overwhelmed by the new and unfamiliar environment and experience. To help your child feel more comfortable, you may want to have them bring some familiar and fun items from home, such as a coloring book, picture books, or stuffed animal. You may not be able to monitor these items as closely as you believe, so it might be advisable to bring items that are not irreplaceable to your child.

Keep calm

Despite the best-laid plans, vacationing with young children is unpredictable. Make contingency plans in the event of illness or travel delays, and remain calm and optimistic if these things do happen. Remember that while time and money went into planning this family vacation, the most important thing is spending quality time together. Remain flexible and enjoy this time together.

Whether you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip abroad or spending a long weekend visiting nearby relatives, planning family vacations can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, with our tips for vacationing with young children, your next family holiday will be memorable for all the right reasons.

4 Meals You Can Make With Your Child

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4 Meals You Can Make With Your Child

Cooking with your child helps them learn valuable lessons about nutrition, and tasks such as measuring ingredients can allow them to develop their math skills. Most importantly, however, it is a fun and easy way to spend quality time together.

Here are four meals you can make with your child’s assistance.

Scrambled Eggs

A breakfast classic, scrambled eggs are easy to make and can be built upon to create a full meal. Younger children may need supervision, but older children may not. Be sure to educate your child about reducing the spread of Salmonella and other pathogens by having them wash their hands after cracking the eggs into the bowl.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 Tbsp milk or cream
Pinch of salt and pepper

Whisk the eggs, milk or cream, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Spray a skillet with cooking spray, or add a small amount of butter. Heat the skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and reduce the heat to low. Using a heat-resistant spatula, gently stir the eggs until large, soft curds have formed with no liquid visible. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Additions to scrambled eggs include: herbs such as chives, dill, or parsley; ¼ cup shredded cheese; ¼ cup salsa; or cooked vegetables such as spinach, tomato, or mushrooms.

Build-Your-Own Wraps

If your child is a fussy eater, they may feel more willing to eat something where they can control what goes into it. Wraps are a quick and easy lunch or dinner idea that are easy for kids to help with. Show them the appropriate amount of each filling per wrap, and demonstrate how to roll everything up, and let your child create their own. Here are some filling ideas you can use to get started:

  • Herbed cream cheese, ham, carrots, and cucumber
  • Plain cream cheese, turkey, tomato, and avocado
  • Guacamole, cooked rice, black beans, and shredded cheese
  • Scrambled eggs, onions, and red pepper
  • Hummus, grilled chicken breast, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, and feta cheese

Chicken Satay

A tasty idea for your next barbecue, these chicken satay skewers are ideal for older children to help with. Younger children can help to make the dressing for the cucumber salad. The strength of the marinade’s flavor can be adjusted based on your family’s taste preferences.

Get the full chicken satay recipe at BBC Good Food.

Empanadas

Using store-bought pie crust and pre-made salsa makes this recipe easier and faster for children to help with. Younger children can help to measure out each filling ingredient and cut the dough into circle shapes, and older children can fold the empanadas in half and use a fork to seal the edges.

Get the full empanadas recipe at PBS Kids.

By helping out in the kitchen, your child will gain an invaluable education in nutrition and food preparation that they can use for the rest of their life. Cooking with your child will not only allow you to teach them these skills in a safe manner, but it will be an ideal opportunity to strengthen your bond.

Activities Your Child Can Do at KLA Schools Summer Camp

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Activities Your Child Can Do at KLA Schools Summer Camp

KLA Schools Summer Camp is a fun, supportive, and secure place for your child to have fun and learn new things. When your child is attending KLA Schools Summer Camp, they will spend time outdoors, and learn several skills such as teamwork, tolerance, self-esteem, and resiliency.

Here are some of the activities your child can do at summer camp.

  • Spanish Immersion. KLA Schools Summer Camp offers Spanish language immersion programs. Your child will be able to develop their Spanish skills naturally, and in an enjoyable way.
  • KLA Schools Summer Camp offers music as one of its many activities, encouraging children to move, dance, sing, and express themselves.
  • At KLA Schools Summer Camp, your child can put on theater performances for their friends. This will help to teach them teamwork and confidence, and it naturally appeals to a child’s love of make-believe.
  • Sports and movement. Whether it’s hiking, swimming, organized sports, or fun activities such as tag, and climbing, your child will enjoy a range of physical activity to develop their gross and fine motor skills.
  • Outdoor exploration. There is nothing more natural in KLA Schools Summer Camp than spending time outdoors. Your child will enjoy the great outdoors while learning more about nature.
  • Children of all ages can learn cooking skills. Whether it’s mixing ingredients or creating entire meals from scratch, KLA Schools Summer Camp provides an ideal opportunity for your child to learn about food.
  • Sensory exploration. Summer camps provide a unique opportunity for sensory exploration. Your child may already use a sensory table at home or at preschool or daycare, but the abundant natural materials at KLA Schools Summer Camp will help your child use their senses to gather information and ask questions about the world around them.
  • Field trips and sightseeing. Whether it’s visiting a farmer’s market or local museum, your child will have a variety of opportunities to get involved in their community and explore. Special themed events and trips can also give your child a chance to expand their horizons while experiencing a new location.

There are many enriching experiences and activities available to your child. At KLA Schools Summer Camp, your child will enjoy these activities in a fun, non-competitive, and safe environment.

Strengthening the Child-Grandparent Relationship

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Strengthening the Child-Grandparent Relationship

As a parent, you know it’s important for your child to have a strong, caring bond with you. But did you know that the child-grandparent relationship can be just as important? According to a study by Boston College, a strong bond between grandparents and grandchildren can reduce symptoms of depression in both groups. Because grandparents often have more free time and are more removed from daily childcare duties than parents, they “give their grandchildren more emotional, time and intellectual capacity,” according to the University of Hradec Kralove, in the Czech Republic.

Here are some tips to help you strengthen the relationship between your child and their grandparents.

Encourage grandparents to share family stories and photos

Children of all ages love a good story, and grandparents are an ideal source of interesting and amusing family stories. Looking through old family photos together is also a good way for your child and their grandparents to bond. Remember, this is their special relationship, so try to have a good sense of humor if your parents unearth an embarrassing childhood photo or story of you.

Communicate long-distance

Many grandparents live far away from their grandchildren, but they can still form a strong relationship. Thanks to technology such as Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts, they can talk in real time, face-to-face. If your child’s grandparents prefer the phone, you can encourage your child to phone them whenever they feel like saying hello. Younger children can draw pictures to mail, and older children can send handwritten letters and cards.

Ask grandparents to babysit

Some parents feel like they are imposing when they ask their child’s grandparents to babysit. However, by doing this, you may actually be standing in the way of your child forming a strong, independent bond with their grandparents. So whether it’s for an afternoon or a weekend, leaving your child in the care of their grandparents will allow them to develop a relationship in their own unique way.

Help children and grandparents start new traditions

In a similar vein to having grandparents babysit while you’re out running errands or on holiday, encouraging grandparent-specific activities can also help strengthen the relationship. For example, everyone might enjoy movie night at the grandparents’ house, scrapbooking with grandma, or special Friday dinners with grandpa. Try to let these activity ideas come from your child or their grandparents, so they will look forward to these shared interests.

A strong relationship with your child can help grandparents learn new things about the world and be more open to new ideas. For your child, grandparents can offer them a unique perspective that comes with life experience. The relationship between your child and their grandparents is an important one, and these tips can help you to encourage a strong bond.

Discipline With Love

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Discipline With Love

For a child to grow up in a safe, loving and warm environment, it is necessary to work every day to cultivate a solid emotional base. If the emotional well-being of ​​a child is strong enough, they will be better prepared to meet their milestones in in other areas of development.

  • To guide our children, we must always take into account the example we are giving them. Let’s be a positive role model, in which respect and empathy for others is highlighted. Most children learn behaviors through observation. Therefore, we must act in a way that we consider is the most appropriate for our children to emulate. If a parent or teacher yells at a child, it is likely that the child will repeat this behavior in the future.
  • It is important to be clear in letting our children know what we expect from them from the very beginning. Together we can create certain standards (reasonable, logical, fair and realistic) or expectations that are appropriate for their level of development. Consistent communication is the best tool to use to enable children to understand what behaviors we expect from them. We should take advantage of all opportunities to talk to our children about situations that happened or will happen.  Enlist your children in navigating situations and reach agreements together to show them that you respect them.  By including them in the decision-making process you provide them opportunities to practice reasoning skills while giving them ownership of the behaviors you are teaching them.
  • The famous “Timeout”, from my perspective, is usually best utilized by adults. There are times when it is better to take a moment to breathe and analyze the reason for their behavior.
  • You can also talk to a child and remove him from a place or group if you have explained to him why you are doing so. Explain your intention of having him helping and supporting him to calm down (if that is what he needs) or to help understand how best to express his emotions. You can also give him a hug, which can be more helpful than a punishment. However, this should not always be the strategy; as a child can be given the option of either staying where he is, or leaving (if he wishes) to come back whenever he is ready.
  • It is our responsibility to accompany children in their growth with a consistent and loving presence, without the need to be authoritarian, and never with the use of violence. Finding a way to make a child feel bad, so that he learns a lesson, does not teach him anything but damages his self image and teaches him this is okay to do to others.
  • Both children and adults learn from love and communication, not from shame or anger.
  • It is likely that for some parents or teachers, yelling or imposing punishment seems most effective. The truth is that through dialogue and respectful communication we can achieve much more, since solid foundations, safe and effective relationships are formed without the need to hurt or harm the others.

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

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

Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist? How to Help

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Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist? How to Help

Many adults do not enjoy going to the dentist, and sometimes children can feel the same way. We know that regular dental checkups are essential to maintain our oral hygiene and overall health. But for a child, the sounds and unfamiliar environment can be scary.

Here are some ways you can help your child overcome their fear of the dentist.

Start the dental visits young

Make dentist visits part of your child’s routine as early as you can – the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your child to the dentist by their first birthday. With early visits, your child will have time to get used to their dentist, as well as the general environment of the dentist’s office. The dentist can slowly introduce the usage of dental instruments to prevent your child getting overwhelmed. The dentist will also be able to advise on dental issues specific to your child, such as thumb sucking or pacifier use.

Read books about the dentist

No matter your child’s age, there are many books available that will help them learn about the dentist. The colorful pictures and positive stories will inform your child about what happens at the dentist’s office, while allaying any anxieties they might have. Some children’s books about the dentist are Peppa Pig’s Dentist Trip, The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, and Just Going to the Dentist.

Model calm behavior

According to a study by the Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid, parents pass on a fear of the dentist to their children. No matter your own feelings about going to the dentist, it’s important to show your child that it’s not scary. Avoid talking about the dentist in a negative way, avoiding words like “drill,” “needle,” or “pain.” Maintain calm and relaxed composure once you’re there. This will show your child that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Have an open conversation with your child

When you explain the importance of oral health to your child, they can begin to understand why going to the dentist is a good thing. If your child has questions about the dentist, tailor your answers in an age-appropriate way. You can also ask your pediatric dentist about how they recommend you answer your child’s questions.

Be patient and compassionate

Sometimes, despite the best preparation, your child may still whine, cry, or squirm while in the dentist’s chair. This can feel frustrating, but try to stay positive and patient. Your child’s dentist is used to working with children and will likely have strategies to help calm your child down. Try to remain calm yourself, to show your child that everything is okay.

Going to the dentist regularly is an important part of oral health, and oral health is an important part of our overall health. It can be a scary and unfamiliar environment for children, but with these tips, you can help your child soothe their fear of the dentist.

Time-Saving Tips for Single Parents

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Time-Saving Tips for Single Parents

When you’re a single parent, your time is at a premium. You want to make sure that you manage your work and family priorities, all while making some time for yourself as well. Here are some time-saving tips for single parents.

Get things ready the night before

For many families, the morning routine is a hectic one, and there isn’t much free time to spare. To help you save time in the morning, prepare as much as you can the night before. For example, you can assemble lunches, pack backpacks and bags, lay out everyone’s clothing for the next day, or even set the table for breakfast.

Meal prep on weekends

Weekends can be an ideal time to cook for the week ahead. If you find yourself with an extra hour or so, you can chop vegetables, or even create large batches of easy-to-freeze meals such as chili or casseroles. These can be reheated for lunches or dinners during the week, when you might have less time to cook from scratch. You may also want to take a few minutes to plan your meals for the days ahead, which can mean less time wasted looking for ingredients at the last minute.

Write down your weekly commitments

Having all of your chores, meetings, and appointments written out will help you to ensure that you’re planning and using your time most efficiently. You can simply write these items in a weekly organizer, and some families benefit from having the schedule posted in a communal location like the kitchen. Be sure to include things you may not think you need to, such as picking up your children from school.

Enlist help and delegate

Asking others for help now and then can help to make your daily life run smoother. You can ask a neighbor to sign for a package you’re expecting, share carpool duties with another parent from your child’s school, or have your child spend one evening a week at their grandparents’ house. You can even give your children duties, such as helping to unload the dishwasher or putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket. This will not only free up some time for you, but your child will learn to feel included as well.

Don’t expect perfection

You’re just one person, so remember to go easy on yourself and pick your battles. It may not be possible to cook a hot breakfast every morning or have a spotlessly clean home. Instead, decide what things are most important to you, and try to not waste time worrying about the other things.

Learn to say no

Along with letting go of perfection, learning to say no is an important skill for single parents to develop. Every family has certain responsibilities they must meet, but it’s also important to carve out some unscheduled time. You’ll have more time to spend with your family, and reduce your overall stress.

Identify time-wasters

We all have small tasks that, when added up, account for a significant amount of wasted time. Evaluate your own daily routine and schedule, and look for any ways you can maximize efficiency. For example, do you spend five minutes circling the grocery store parking lot for the best spot? Try parking a bit further away and walking – you may find that you save a couple of valuable minutes.

Parenting solo comes with its own set of unique challenges, and it can seem like there isn’t enough time to get everything done. However, with our seven tips, you may be able to find a bit more extra time in your day as a single parent.

How to Navigate the Challenges of a Blended Family

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How to Navigate the Challenges of a Blended Family

An estimated one in five families are stepfamilies or blended families, where at least one parent has children that aren’t related to their partner. While bringing two families together can be exciting, navigating a blended family also comes with its own unique challenges. Here are some ways you can help to make the transition easier for the children of a blended family.

Keep communication open with your child

Depending on the age of your child, they may have trouble understanding what it means to become a blended family. Children may see your new partner or any new stepsiblings as competition. Be sure to give your child sufficient time to express their feelings, and have respectful discussions with them as honestly as possible. Their questions may range from everyday things such as living arrangements and what to call your new partner, or larger concerns that are making them anxious. Above all, reassure your child that you love them and will be there to help them. Your child will need time, so start this process as soon as you can.

Parent consistently

Many parents in new blended families often discover that their partner has a different parenting style, which can result in confusion for the children involved. In order to maintain the consistency that helps children to thrive, it’s important to sit down with your partner early on to discuss your parenting values and beliefs, and agree on household strategies and rules that you both can put into practice. Marjorie Engel, PhD, president of the Stepfamily Association of America, suggests that discipline should be handled by the child’s biological parent at first, with the stepparent supporting them. This will help your child get used to their stepparent’s new role.

Be patient and considerate

According to Judy Osborne, a therapist and director of the Stepfamily Association, it can typically take between two to five years for a blended family to become established. Whether there are custody arrangements in place or not, it’s important for your new blended family to take the time to connect with each other. For example, you can create a weekly family movie night, or make sure to have dinner together every day. These routines will help your child gain much-needed stability during the transition, and will allow everyone to bond and form new relationships. This process will likely see some setbacks, but remember to remain patient and respectful.

Manage new sibling relationships

If your child will be living with stepsiblings, this can be stressful and difficult for them in the beginning. There may be issues of jealousy, unworthiness, or confusion about where they belong. As always, being patient and open with your child can go a long way in helping them get used to new siblings. Setting up new family traditions and routines can help all stepsiblings learn to bond with each other. While it’s important to treat all the children in the family equally, it can also help to spend some quality one-on-one time with your child, to reassure them that they are still important to you despite the new family arrangement.

Starting a new life as a blended family can be a wonderful opportunity for your child to develop new and lasting relationships. However, it is also a highly complex process, and one that can be difficult for a child. With these tips, you can help your child navigate the challenges of a blended family.

Childhood is Not a Race

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Childhood is Not a Race

Childhood is not a race to see how fast a child learns to walk, run, talk, stop using diapers, read, write or count. Childhood is a wonderful time that goes from birth to adolescence, in which children learn, develop and grow at their own pace.

Each child is different and unique, and we must respect the pace in which they learn. There is a strong social pressure in our society about what children should learn, how and when.

A child’s emotional state is the first thing we must take into account. Making sure, that they feel safe and loved is the most important thing. At the end, I do not know of any adult that does not know how to count, write or read after having had the possibilities to learn how to do so.

Respect each other’s rights and allow them to enjoy their lives. Let them explore with their bodies, so that they can build knowledge of the world to which they belong. Make the most of every situation that is presented to them.

We must focus on giving them tools for life. It is better to stop thinking about preparing them for a future that is not here yet (such as the next school year), since you might be anticipating what their body is not ready to learn yet.

We have to let them live one day at a time, we have to let them be little. Let’s not make them grow before they are ready to do so, we shouldn’t make them grow too quickly.

Raquel Roa
Assistant Director of Professional Development

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

Fun Springtime Crafts for Children

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Fun Springtime Crafts for Children

With its blooming flowers, budding trees and chirping birds, spring is full of elements that can spark your child’s imagination. Celebrate the return of springtime with these fun crafts for your young child.

Spring Suncatchers

You and your child can create your favorite spring flowers, and hang them in your windows to enjoy them all season long. Depending on the age of your child, you may need to cut out and glue the flower shapes yourself. However, even young children can help by dipping muffin liners in watercolor paint, and sticking tissue paper to the contact paper flowers.

Find out how to make the spring suncatcher flowers here.

To enhance your springtime scene, you can create rain suncatchers by sticking blue tissue paper into raindrop shapes.

Rainbow Flowers

Another flower-themed craft, creating rainbow flowers is educational as well as easy. Using only water, food coloring, and flowers, this craft will help to spark young imaginations. This craft also serves as a quick and simple science project, as your child can clearly see how flowers draw water up through their stems and into their petals and leaves.

What you’ll need:

  • Small clear containers such as vases or jam jars
  • Liquid food coloring
  • White carnations, daisies, or mums

Mix water and 20-30 drops of liquid food coloring in each container, with each holding a different color. Take the flowers and cut each stem on the diagonal. Place some flowers in each of the vases. After a few hours, you and your child will begin to see color appearing on the petals. You can even cut the stems open to see the color inside.

Tissue Paper Rainbows

With paper plates, markers, tissue paper, and glue, you and your child can create a colorful springtime rainbow. Depending on the age of your child, you may need to assist with the initial drawing and cutting. Your child will have fun gluing and sticking the colorful tissue paper onto their rainbow, and they will develop their fine motor skills and color recognition at the same time.

Find out how to make tissue paper rainbows here.

Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeder

This homemade bird feeder involves a little hands-on work by you, but older children can help too. Younger children will have fun adding the peanut butter and the birdseed, and the entire family will enjoy watching birds visit the feeder again and again.

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

You can also purchase wooden birdhouses from a hardware or craft store, and have your children get creative by painting them with liquid watercolor paint.

Footprint Robin

Celebrate the first birds of spring with this fun and easy footprint robin. This craft only needs washable child-safe paint and green construction paper. Your child can help you decorate the green field their footprint robin stands on.

Find out how to make a footprint robin here.

These springtime crafts are an ideal way for you and your child to spend quality time together while also celebrating the elements of spring. For more crafts, try these 5 Easter Crafts for Preschoolers.

Why Summer Camp is Beneficial

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Why Summer Camp is Beneficial

For many parents, a good summer camp is a place for their child to spend their free time during the summer holidays. However, there are many other reasons why summer camp is good for your child. Discover why summer camp is beneficial for children.

Time spent outdoors being physically active

This is perhaps the most common reason parents enroll their children in summer camp. Whether it’s an overnight camp where children hike, canoe, or swim, or a day camp where children take field trips locally and draw outdoors, your child will be sure to reap the benefits of increased physical activity and fresh air.

Active play

Children learn through play and hands-on experiences. At summer camp, they will get a chance to dig, splash, run, climb, jump, sing, dance, and play pretend. Under the care of camp staff, your child will have an opportunity to problem solve, learn social skills, practice empathy, and be creative through active play.

Teamwork and tolerance

At summer camp, your child will meet other children from diverse backgrounds. They’ll sing together, play together, and work on projects together. Summer camp is an ideal place for children to develop their social skills and learn more about others. According to Troy Glover, director of the University of Waterloo’s Healthy Communities Research Network, summer camp “develops emotional intelligence in children by making them more empathetic.”

Increased self-esteem

According to Michael Popkin, Ph.D., “The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning, and contributing. Camps offer unique opportunities for children to succeed in these three vital areas.” Outside of home and school, summer camp gives children a third opportunity to experience new things and make friends. This will help to strengthen their confidence and self-esteem.

Greater resiliency

Many summer camps offer activities and experiences that may not be part of your child’s everyday life. Whether it’s performing onstage, swimming in a lake, learning a new language, or spending the day sightseeing, summer camps are a secure environment where every child is treated equally and fairly. Staff members will show your child that it’s okay to fail, and give them encouragement to try again. Your child will take risks and face challenges, further increasing their independence and resiliency.

Summer camp is a secure, supportive, and non-competitive environment for your child. At KLA Schools Summer Camp, your child will spend time outdoors, build upon skills in active play, learn teamwork and tolerance, and increase their self-esteem and resiliency.

6 Children’s Books About Spring

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6 Children's Books About Spring

Spring is an ideal time to help your child learn about the world around them. Together, you and your child can read books about flowers, trees, baby animals, and spring events such as Easter.

Here are six books that will help your toddler or preschooler learn about spring.

I See Spring

Age range: 2-4 years
In this colorful and easy-to-read book, your child will learn about rain, blooming flowers, and spring animals such as robins and butterflies.

Springtime Babies

Age range: 2-5 years
In this book, Pony and Gray Goose search for new animal babies on the farm. Children will learn about the different names for animal babies, and about the different animals that live in a farm.

Peppa’s Easter Egg Hunt

Age range: 3-5 years
Young fans of the Peppa Pig cartoons will enjoy following along as Peppa and her friends have an Easter egg hunt.

Worm Weather

Age range: 3-5 years
Rainy days are a key feature of spring, and children love to splash in puddles. This book’s simple rhyming text and playful illustrations help young children to understand spring weather.

And Then It’s Spring

Age range: 4-7 years
A young boy and his dog decide to plant a garden at the beginning of spring. This book teaches children about planting seeds, rain, and how things grow in spring.

What Does Bunny See?: A Book of Colors and Flowers

Age range: 4-7 years
In this book, Bunny explores a garden with colorful flowers. Children can learn their colors, as well as the names of some common springtime flowers.

With blooming flowers, budding trees, and new animals to see, spring is a great time to indulge your child’s natural curiosity about the world. These six books will help your child learn more about spring, and will provide some quality time for you as well.

Tips to Prepare for Maternity Leave

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Tips to Prepare for Maternity Leave

When thinking of your maternity leave, you’re likely focusing on spending time with your new baby. Bonding with your baby is very important, but taking certain steps to prepare for maternity leave will ensure that your time away won’t be spent worrying about work. Here are some ways you can prepare for maternity leave.

Have a discussion with your boss

It’s best to inform your boss of your pregnancy first, as early as you can. This will ensure that both of you have enough time to prepare. For you, this can mean thinking about your tasks and responsibilities and how they can best be handled in your absence. For your boss, this can mean strategizing which of your coworkers can take on some of your duties, and beginning the search for a temporary replacement if necessary.

Together, the two of you can create an action plan for your role while you’re on maternity leave.

Look for child care

Although returning to work may seem years away right now, getting child care arranged as soon as possible will mean you don’t have to worry about it during your maternity leave. Look for a child care center that is licensed (if applicable in your state), has clean and safe facilities, and is staffed by educated and caring caregivers. Read our list of 28 must-ask questions before choosing a daycare to help you find a child care center that will be best for your infant and your family.

Think about finances

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49% of mothers did not have paid maternity leave between 2006 and 2008. Sit down with your family and figure out your planned expenses during your leave, as well as any expenses you think could arise –  even ones unrelated to your baby. You may want to set up a savings account specifically to create a financial cushion for your maternity leave. U.S. News has more advice for preparing financially for maternity leave.

Document your processes and systems

A few weeks before your leave, start documenting all your tasks, responsibilities, systems, and processes. These notes will help your temporary replacement to handle your tasks without getting confused or needing assistance. The way you organize these notes is up to you, but consider it from the perspective of someone who may have little knowledge of your daily, weekly, and monthly routine.

You may also need to train your coworkers or temporary replacement on how to perform your regular duties. Set some ground rules for contact during your leave if they have a question your documentation doesn’t cover.

Planning for your maternity leave involves many factors, including creating an action plan with your boss, looking for child care, planning your finances, and working with your coworkers to handle the transition. However, starting as early as possible will ensure that you don’t have to rush, and will have everything set up so that you can spend your maternity leave bonding with your new baby.

How to Encourage Empathy in Your Child

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How to Encourage Empathy in Your Child

As adults, we may take empathy for granted. We have years of experience seeing a situation from someone else’s perspective, and caring about others. However, empathy is a skill that is learned, and takes practice to develop.

For children, empathy is an especially important skill to learn. It is the basis for other life skills such as forming strong relationships, conflict resolution, gratitude, and behaving ethically to others.

A study at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley showed that 18-month-old children were already developing the foundations of empathy, and by age four they were beginning to consider other people’s feelings in relation to their own.

Here are some tips to encourage empathy in your child.

  • Lead by example. As a parent, your actions and words have a strong impact on your child. Some ways you can model empathy include: Making sure your child sees you being kind to others, asking your child how they think their favorite book or movie character feels in a tough situation, or asking your child about their own feelings and responding with care and compassion.
  • Respect your child’s feelings. It goes without saying that your child cannot learn to respect the feelings of others if they do not receive that same respect themselves. Make sure your child knows that they can count on you to help them work through their negative emotions, and provide emotional support. A study by Drs. Everett Waters, Judith Wippman and L. Alan Sroufe showed that children who could count on their caregivers for emotional support were more likely to sympathize with and help others.
  • Show empathy in pretend play. Pretend play is an ideal time to practice empathy, as your child is already imagining the thoughts and feelings of others, even if it’s just their favorite stuffed animal. You can help your child by asking questions about what their toy or doll is doing, feeling, and thinking – and why.
  • Read books that demonstrate empathy. Children love to read stories and look at picture books, and there are several books available that teach empathy. For example, you and your child may want to select some empathy-focused books from this list created by Common Sense Media.
  • Help your child find common ground. Humans are naturally inclined to feel empathy for someone who is similar to them. However, you can show your child that they can have something in common with someone who might look, act, or think differently from them. You can help your child find common ground with others, whether it’s a favorite song, similar personalities, or a comparable life experience. This is also a good way to discourage sibling rivalry.
  • Expose your child to a variety of people. Finding common ground amongst a wide variety of people can be easier when your child is exposed to different cultures and beliefs in a non-judgmental way. Research has shown that limited exposure to people who are different from us is one of the biggest predictors of racial prejudice and lack of empathy.

Developing empathy is an important skill for your child to develop. However, it will take time, patience, and a positive attitude. With these tips, you can build the foundations of empathy for your child, which they can continue to build upon throughout their life.

How to Support Your Child’s Language Skills

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How to Support Your Child's Language Skills

Language is very important for toddlers and preschoolers. Through conversation, they learn many other things, such as social skills and how to understand their emotions.

There are several ways parents and caregivers can help babies and young children develop their language skills.

Respond to your baby. Even though babies cannot yet use words, they are still trying to communicate. By responding to a baby’s babbles and gestures, you are teaching them that they’re successfully connecting you. For example, when your baby reaches for a toy, you can say, “Oh, you want to play with this toy. Here you go.” Even though conversations with a baby can seem one-sided, they validate the importance of conversation and communication.

Read with your child. No matter what age your child is, reading to them is invaluable in helping them develop language skills. You can read the exact story that is written, but you can also discuss the pictures, and ask your child questions such as, “What do you think the puppy is looking for?”

Tell stories. Like reading a book, telling a story is a good way for a child’s imagination to assist with language development. You can invent an age-appropriate story similar to your child’s favorite book, or you can recount a true story. For example, if your preschooler has just received their first tricycle, you can tell them a story about getting your own first tricycle.

Build upon what your child says. Though it can seem like a lot of information for a child, adding on to what they say allows them to make greater connections between words and the world around them. For example, if your child says, “Car,” you can respond with, “Yes, that’s a green car. Where is it going? Maybe it’s going to the store.”

Pay attention when your child speaks. Whether or not your child is speaking clearly and confidently, it’s important to model the importance of being present in a conversation. Calmly and patiently listen to what your child is saying, and give them time to respond to you as well. When your child sees that you value what they have to say, they will be motivated to continue practicing.

Discuss things as they’re happening. Your everyday activities offer a great opportunity to help your child learn new words, as well as learn more about how the world works. You can say things like, “I’m looking for apples. I like green ones the best. I’m choosing ones that aren’t soft. I’m getting this bag to put the apples in. Can you help me find some green apples?” You can also narrate your child’s experience, such as, “You’re playing with your big brother. What is he building?”

Give and ask for simple directions. Giving and receiving directions also helps your child practice their language skills. The directions you give will vary depending on your child’s age, from “Throw the ball” to “Please go up to your room and bring me your favorite book.” You can also ask your child to direct you in an activity, such as drawing a picture of the family pet.

Be positive. When helping your child develop their language skills, it is important to be calm and patient, and let your child grow in their own way. Resist criticizing your child’s pronunciation. Instead, repeat the sentence back to them with correct pronunciation and word usage. Give lots of praise and encouragement to show your child that making the effort is worth it.

Exposing your child to language as early and as often as possible will help them to understand the importance of good communication. Strong language skills are key to developing social skills, vocabulary, and emotional management. With these tips, you can help support your child’s language skills.

The Preschool-Parent Relationship

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The Preschool-Parent Relationship

When it comes to choosing the best preschool for your child, there are many things to keep in mind. However, one of the most important qualities in a good preschool is the relationship between parents and educators. According to Diane Levin, Ph.D., of Wheelock College, a positive preschool-parent relationship “demonstrates to your child that he can trust his teacher, because you do.”

Here are some ways you can help foster a strong preschool-parent relationship.

Keep the lines of communication open

As with any relationship, strong communication is a key to success. You may already expect to receive updates about your child’s activities on a regular basis, but it’s important to keep your child’s preschool teacher updated as well. For example, if your child has been more interested in reading than usual, or is beginning to become less shy, their teacher will benefit from knowing this information. Together, you and your child’s teacher can create a welcoming, educational, and caring environment for your child’s development.

Pick the best time for discussion

As with any important topic, choosing the best time for both parties to have a discussion is important. For example, if you were hoping to ask your child’s preschool teacher for advice on appropriate discipline, the busy morning drop-off might not be the best time for that sort of lengthy discussion. A good preschool teacher will be happy to talk with you during busy times, but try to stick to more informal topics. Scheduling a later time to discuss lengthier issues will ensure both of you can contribute more effectively.

Keep an open mind

As a parent, you’re doing your best to raise your child to be a happy, well-rounded individual. You also know your child’s unique personality better than anyone. However, your child’s preschool teacher spends several hours a day with them, and is also well-versed in the latest findings in early childhood education. You may find that a suggestion from your child’s teacher may be beneficial, even if it’s something you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

Of course, as a parent, your role is most important. When looking for a preschool, trust your instincts about how well its teachers will give advice while still respecting your parenting.

Get involved

While getting involved with your child’s preschool is not a necessity for a good relationship, it can help immensely. Becoming a part of the preschool community will not only help you become a more familiar face to your child’s teachers, but it will help you to understand more about the school and its values. Learn more about getting involved in your child’s preschool here.

You have a busy life and many things to keep track of on a daily basis, and so does your child’s preschool teacher. To that end, remember that you are both partners collaborating for the benefit of your child. Work together to create ways to help your child, and keep this partnership going when things are going well, too. A strong parent-preschool relationship will help your child feel more secure, and develop a strong foundation for success.

The Importance of Family and Friends for Your Child

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The Importance of Family and Friends for Your Child

As a parent, you know the necessity of forming a strong bond with your child. But did you know that strong relationships with other family and friends can be just as important? Here are some reasons why family and friends are so important for your child, and how you can help foster those relationships.

Greater empathy and understanding of others

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a toddler who plays with friends can demonstrate “less aggressive behavior and calmer play sessions.” This is because playing with their friends allows preschoolers to understand that people are unique, and each have different wants and needs. With this growing awareness of the feelings and actions of others, they will begin to see that cooperation is often more ideal than competition. Empathy is a very important skill to develop, and playing with friends is an ideal, low-stakes environment for this to take place.

Improved conflict resolution skills

Strong friendships can help your child build good conflict resolution skills. With both acquaintances and close friends, conflict is bound to arise from time to time. However, according to psychologist Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D. “What a friend says and does really matters. And because you are friends, you are motivated to work it through.” With familial relationships, this concept can be even stronger.

Greater independence

When your child was an infant, you were their closest friend. However, as your child grows, it is important to practice independence. Strong relationships with others, both inside and outside of the family, can help your child understand their own unique personality and where they fit in with their world. Good relationships will also increase your child’s self-esteem, which will increase their independence even more.

Sense of belonging, support, and enhanced well-being

We all have at least one friend who is always ready to listen, or who has consistently been supportive. For children, this is equally as important. According to a study by the British Journal of Psychology, having at least one close friend has helped children overcome challenging situations.

This type of positive influence isn’t limited to overcoming adversity. Other studies have shown that friends can influence children to be more physically active, and have better attitudes towards school. Also, thanks to the security and sense of belonging that these relationships bring, close family and friends can be an excellent source of stress reduction for your child.

How to encourage strong relationships for your child

As a parent, you can do several things to foster strong and healthy relationships for your child. Here are some examples:

  • Set up play dates with your child’s closest preschool friend.
  • Read books about friendship with your child.
  • Offer to host a sleepover for your child and a few of their friends.
  • Make regular visits to family members, and invite them to do the same.
  • Encourage your older child to sign up for extracurricular activities that interest them.

As always, the behavior you model will have a strong influence on your child. Let your child see you nurturing your own relationships, and they will be able to learn from your example.

When Should Your Child Give Up the Pacifier?

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When Should Your Child Give Up the Pacifier?

For young children, the pacifier can be a great source of comfort. It can also be a useful way for parents to soothe a fussy infant or toddler. However, many parents wonder about the best time to encourage their child to stop using it, especially as their child gets older.

A child’s pacifier is a way to calm themselves. In fact, when a child is too young to ask for comfort, it’s often the only way. However, as a child grows up, they will begin to look for other ways to help them self-soothe. These other methods include security objects such as blankets or stuffed animals, a snuggle with a parent, or talking about their feelings.

There are no hard and fast rules about when a child should give up the pacifier. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting or stopping pacifier use after the age of 6 months to reduce the risk of ear infections. However, pediatric dentist John Stritikus recommends reducing pacifier use after age 2, and getting rid of it completely by age 4. By the time an infant becomes a toddler, they may also naturally develop other stress-management techniques, and give up the pacifier on their own.

Ways to encourage your child to give up the pacifier

If you’ve decided your child is ready to stop their pacifier usage, here are some ways you can help the process:

  • Remove the pacifier in situations where your child is completely calm and happy, such as playing at home.
  • Try distraction methods when you notice your child becoming upset. For example, give them a favorite book, or a stuffed animal.
  • Gradually reduce the amount of time your infant uses their pacifier. For example, you may want to wean them off it at naptime to start, or let them use it for shorter periods of time during the day.
  • Use the Tooth Fairy approach. Encourage your child to gather all their pacifiers for the “Pacifier Fairy,” who will take them in exchange for a toy or gift.
  • Many toddlers like the idea of being a “big kid.” They may enjoy the idea of having a party to say goodbye to the pacifier, and say hello to being a big boy or girl.
  • Encourage your toddler to choose some of their “baby” things to donate to babies who might need toys, clothes, and pacifiers.
  • Read books with your toddler about giving up the pacifier, such as Pacifiers Are Not Forever, Bea Gives Up Her Pacifier, and Ben Gives Up His Pacifier. Together, you can talk about what it means to give up the pacifier, and how your child will feel.

When weaning your child off the pacifier, it’s important to remain consistent as well as optimistic. Your child has relied on the pacifier all of their life, and some rough nights are bound to happen. These tips will help you figure out when your child should give up the pacifier, and the best ways to do it.

Ways to Teach Your Child About Colors

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Ways to Teach Your Child About Colors

Children begin to identify colors at around 18 months, and it’s important to help your child continue this process. Colors are all around us, and being able to differentiate between them is an important skill related to math and problem-solving.

Here are some fun ways you can teach your child about colors.

  1. During snack time, have your child sort their veggies, fruit, and crackers by color.
  2. Go for a walk and point out the colors of things around you. The classic game “I Spy” is ideal here.
  3. Color and draw with sidewalk chalk, finger paint, or a coloring book.
  4. Using a sheet of multicolored stickers, have your child match a sticker with a colored circle you’ve drawn on a separate sheet of paper.
  5. Decide on a color of the day, and choose your child’s clothing, family meals, and other activities based on that color.
  6. Have your child help you decorate cookies or cupcakes with colorful icing and sprinkles.
  7. Read books together that focus on colors, while also telling a fun story your child will enjoy.
  8. Play board games such as Candy Land, that are designed to help children learn their colors.
  9. Hold a color-related scavenger hunt in your home. Some ideas for items to use include: crayons, toy blocks, pieces of construction paper, and small balls of yarn. Give your child paper bags with each color’s name written or drawn in the corresponding color, and have them fill each bag with their discoveries.
  10. On a nice day, head outside for some spray bottle painting, filling each bottle with a different color of paint.
  11. In the produce section of the grocery store, ask your child to help you pick out fruit and vegetables based on color.
  12. If your child is confident in identifying basic colors, you can help them learn about shades and hues with paint swatches. Ask your child to sort the swatches from light to dark, or make a collage using different shades of their favorite color.
  13. Play with play-dough and small craft items such as buttons, beads, and wooden shapes. Your child can match the items with the dough, creating a sensory experience as well.
  14. Using a few easy-to-find items, you and your child can create rainbow shaving cream marbled art.
  15. With food coloring, you can make fun multicolored ice cubes with your child. This is an ideal opportunity to talk with your child about colors – you can ask them to predict what will happen when colors are mixed, and when the ice melts.

Color recognition is an important skill that forms the basis for math and problem-solving skills later in life. With these 15 fun and educational activities, you can help your child learn more about colors.

Productivity Tips for Work-From-Home Parents

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Productivity Tips for Work-From-Home Parents

Whether it’s full time or occasionally, many parents are able to balance their careers and personal responsibilities by working from home. If you are one of these parents, you may have struggled with maintaining your productivity while working from your home office. Here are some productivity tips for parents who work from home.

Create a designated area for work

Many people who work from home find a dedicated work space very important. Whether it’s a separate home office or a small desk in the living room, a designated work area can help you stay organized and focused on your work.

Stick to a schedule

When you work from home with kids, a schedule may seem impossible. However, it’s an important way to stay productive. You can create a detailed schedule outlining all the projects you will work on and when, or your schedule can be more general. In either case, a schedule can help you balance work responsibilities and family duties during the day.

Work in blocks of time

Scheduling your day in 30 or 60-minute blocks of time can help you to reduce distractions when working from home. For example, you may want to schedule one hour for finishing a project, and then spend the following half hour returning phone calls or putting together a puzzle with your toddler.

Make time for your kids during the day

Knowing that they will get to spend time with you at some point can help your children learn to respect the times when you have to work. When creating your schedule, be sure to add in time for activities such as quick trips to the park, or eating lunch together. Not only are these breaks good for your own productivity overall, but your children will have their own daily routine as well.

Consider preschool or a babysitter

Though many parents choose to work from home in order to remain closer to their children, preschool can help you stay focused and productive. Many parents also hire a babysitter for a few days a week when they have important deadlines or meetings they need to focus on.

Give your children their own tasks to work on

Many parents working from home like to give their children their own special projects to work on during the day. For example, you can give your preschooler play dough or stickers to play with while you’re working. Older children can feel included by helping you do things such as sorting paperwork or putting stamps on envelopes. Setting up a workspace of their own near you can also help them to feel included.

Working from home as a parent can seem difficult, but staying productive is possible. With these tips, your working day can become more manageable.

Tips for Raising Bilingual Children

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Tips for Raising Bilingual Children

In today’s global society, raising a bilingual child can be more useful than ever. In addition, children who can speak more than one language have an easier time understanding math concepts and solving word problems, have increased creativity, and can develop more flexible ways to think through problems.

Here are some tips for raising bilingual children.

Start as early as possible

According to the National Science Foundation, we can “acquire a language (and sometimes more than one), to the level of native competency, before age 5.” Children younger than age five can learn more than one language easier than older children, so it’s advisable to start the process as early as you can.

Older children can still learn a second language, but after the age of five it may require extra time and patience.

Replace common words and phrases

Introducing your child to common words in their second language is an easy way to help your child associate things they already know with new words. For example, you may want to start saying “Guten Morgen” every morning, or using “gato” when you talk about a cat.

Try the One Person, One Language method

The One Person, One Language (OPOL) method is ideal in two-parent homes where one parent speaks in their first language, and the other parent speaks another. The idea behind OPOL is that each parent speaks to their child exclusively in their own language, thus exposing the child equally to both.

Take advantage of books, music, and other media

Children love to read, sing, and watch movies, and this can be used to help you teach them a second language. Many local libraries have media in other languages, and fun and interactive songs can be found online as well. Take the opportunity to make language fun for your child, and they will be more encouraged to learn.

Go out into the community

Depending on where you live, there may be existing resources in your community that you can turn to. For example, there may be a bilingual daycare, play group, place of worship, or other groups in your area. You may also consider looking for a babysitter who speaks the second language you are trying to help your child learn.

Travel to help your child practice

If it’s possible, you may want to consider traveling to a country or region where your child’s second language is widely spoken. Not only will this help your child practice speaking and understanding the language, but they’ll also gain valuable exposure to the local culture and people.

Remain consistent

One struggle of raising a bilingual child is maintaining the proper focus on the second language. For example, if your child attends an English-speaking preschool, has primarily English-speaking friends, and reads English books, there is a risk of their second language becoming underdeveloped. It may help to make a plan for teaching the minority language, so that you can be sure your child’s exposure to both is more balanced.

Raising a bilingual child can be challenging, but it will also equip your child for success later in life. With these tips, you can start helping your child learn a second language in a fun and meaningful way.

6 Family Tradition Ideas for the New Year

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6 Family Tradition Ideas for the New Year

Many families enjoy partaking in traditions at this time of the year, especially around the holidays. However, January is also an ideal time to start some new family traditions. Try these six family New Year tradition ideas to help your child build a strong feeling of belonging, set goals, and learn more about their world.

1) Interview your child

As adults, we’ve become used to reflecting on our lives at the beginning of each year. This can also be a fun activity for children. Create a list of easy, open-ended questions about your child’s current likes, favorites, and goals. For example, you might ask, “What is your favorite color?” or “Is there something new you want to try this year?” If you choose to do this on New Year’s Eve, you can ask more retrospective questions such as, “What made you feel happy this year?”

Many families print out these interview questions for their child to fill out, and some even record these mini-interviews. This way, you can have a collection of keepsakes to look back on in future years.

2) Create a time capsule

You might think of a time capsule as something that gets buried and uncovered years later, but a New Year’s time capsule doesn’t have to involve digging up your backyard. In much the same way as the New Year interview, a time capsule serves as a snapshot of your child’s life at a particular time. Some ideas for a time capsule include a photo of your child, a drawing, an example of their handwriting such as a story or their name, small mementos from the year, even a small item of clothing.

You can also buy time capsule kits that come complete with ideas, supplies, and containers for safe storage in your home.

3) Take a family photo

Many of us look back on old school photos fondly. A yearly photo is a fun way to chart progress, especially when it comes to children. You can take this same idea and turn it in to a New Year tradition by taking a family photo every January 1st. Try a combination of group and individual photos, and you can incorporate your own unique twist on the photos, such as special outfits or props.

4) Learn about New Year celebrations around the world

Children are endlessly curious, and the New Year provides multiple opportunities for your child to learn more about the world around them. Reading about New Year customs worldwide is an ideal way to spend quality time together, while also helping your child to gain exposure to the beliefs and traditions of other cultures. Incorporating ideas from your family’s culture is another fun way to celebrate a new year while also learning more about their own background.

5) Set family goals

We’re all familiar with the New Year’s Resolution, and many of us set our own personal goals each year. However, setting goals as a family is another good way to encourage a strong feeling of togetherness. Sit down as a family and give each person the chance to talk about what they want the family to accomplish in the new year, and figure out ways to make those goals happen. Creating a vision board with photos, drawings, and checklists can help young children feel included, and they will have a visual reference they can refer to all year long.

6) Create a surprise for the next New Year

For a child, it can be very exciting to receive a gift on New Year’s Day, especially if they’re also the gift-giver. At the beginning of the year, sit down together as a family and have each person create something special to be given as a gift to themselves on the next New Year’s Day. It can be a drawing, a poem, a song, or even a letter. Store these gifts in a secure location, and your child will wake up on January 1st to a surprise they may have forgotten about entirely.

If you like, you can modify this activity by having each family member create a gift for another family member. This way, each person can be assured of a personalized, heartfelt gift.

A new year is the perfect time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished, and set goals for the future. It’s also an ideal time to get your child involved in activities, and these six New Year traditions will help reaffirm their secure place in the family.

Holiday Season Crafts for Preschoolers

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Holiday Season Crafts for Preschoolers

The holidays are rife with imagery, colors, and ideas that can spark a preschooler’s imagination. Here are some fun and creative holiday craft ideas for your preschooler.

Hanukkah Menorah Shape Collage

This Hanukkah craft can help your child recognize and create shapes, and practice counting. It is also an ideal way for your preschooler to participate in lighting a menorah that is still safe.

Find instructions for creating the Hanukkah Menorah Shape Collage here.

Paper Snowflakes

Folding and cutting paper snowflakes is a fun winter tradition the whole family can enjoy. If your preschooler’s safety scissors skills are still being developed, they can decorate the paper before you cut.

Find ideas for paper snowflakes here.

Sugar Ornaments

Ideal for a Christmas tree, you and your preschooler can create these ornaments using only sugar, water, glitter, Christmas cookie cutters, and ribbon. Your child can help you to mix the dough, cut the ornaments, decorate, and thread the ribbon through the ornament.

Find instructions for making sugar ornaments here.

Yarn-Wrapped Window Ornaments

These creative ornaments are an idea that doesn’t have to be limited to the holidays. Your child can express their creativity and hone their fine motor skills with this easy craft. All you need is cardboard, scissors, and some yarn in different colors.

Find out how to make yarn-wrapped window ornaments here.

Fake Snow

With just baking soda and shaving cream, your child can create their own artificial snow. This messy, hands-on craft is ideal for a sensory tub, or to play with outdoors in warmer climates.

Get instructions for making fake snow here.

Getting Your Child Involved in Holiday Traditions

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Getting Your Child Involved in Holiday Traditions

This holiday season, you may be wondering how you can get your young child more involved. No matter what your family celebrates, holiday traditions are an ideal way to spend quality time together, and create lasting memories for everyone. As well, holiday traditions can reaffirm to your child that they are part of a secure and loving environment, and demonstrate the importance of showing goodwill to others.

Here are some ways you can get your child involved in holiday traditions.

Festive meals

Depending on the age of your child, they can get involved by helping you prepare a festive holiday meal. Preschoolers can help you stir flour and salt for cookies or mash cooked potatoes. Older children can measure ingredients or wash vegetables. This is also an ideal time to teach your child about kitchen safety and cleanliness.

Hosting family and friends

The holidays are a time for visiting family and friends. If you’re hosting a holiday get-together in your home, it can be enjoyable for your child as well. Depending on your child’s age, they can get involved by helping to take guests’ coats, setting the table, or handing out gifts. It’s also a great time for your child to practice their conversation skills.

Holiday hosting can be overwhelming for your child, so setting expectations with them beforehand and remaining patient will help the event to go smoothly for everyone.

Decorating the home

Holiday decorations are a quick and easy way to help your child become involved in a family tradition. Older children can help decorate a Christmas tree or light the menorah. Younger children can get involved by picking out ornaments to hang, or drawing holiday designs on kraft paper for DIY gift wrap.

Getting involved with charity

Teaching your child the importance of charity and goodwill over the holidays will help them to develop empathy, and reduce the focus on gifts and material possessions. Families with older children can volunteer to serve meals at a local homeless shelter, visit seniors at a nursing home, or help organize food at a food bank. Children of all ages can get involved by choosing their gently used toys and clothes to be donated to children and families in need.

Incorporating cultural traditions

For holiday tradition ideas, take some inspiration from elements of your own cultural background. You can prepare a holiday meal that you remember from your own family history, attend a traditional worship service, or teach your child how to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” in another language. You can also spend time as a family learning about holiday traditions all over the world.

No matter what your family celebrates, getting your child involved in holiday traditions is a great way to spend some quality time together, and help them to feel included in the family.

All About Conscious Discipline

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All About Conscious Discipline

The best way to discipline a child is something all parents think about. What is the best way to show your child the correct way to behave, without ordering them around? How can you teach your child to behave properly because they know it’s right?

Conscious Discipline is an emotional intelligence program where children learn to express their emotions, resolve problems with words, and work with others. It was developed by Dr. Becky Bailey, an author and early childhood educator. It is designed to create an environment where the motivation to behave comes from the nature of the relationships a child has with others.

Benefits of Conscious Discipline

One of the main messages of Conscious Discipline is that when people feel loved and valued, cooperation flourishes. Whether it’s used in a classroom or home environment, the goal is to help your child connect with those around them, and develop caring relationships. This way, they can modify their behavior due to their own feelings about themselves and others, rather than simply reacting to what an adult tells them to do. Instead of using punishment and rewards, Conscious Discipline encourages problem-solving, cooperation, and acceptance.

In doing this, your child can learn how to problem-solve, become more accountable for their own behavior, and gain self-control.

How to use Conscious Discipline at home

Because Conscious Discipline is focused on creating strong relationships, parents and caregivers can participate as well. Here are some ways you can use Conscious Discipline at home:

  • See the situation from your child’s perspective. Being able to see an event through your child’s eyes can help you to respond appropriately, and can help inform the way you deal with the situation.
  • Offer closed-end choices. Letting your child participate in the decision-making process can help them feel a sense of control and practice collaborative problem-solving. However, a limited amount of choice is easier for a young child to handle. For example, you can say, “Do you want to brush your teeth first, or put on your pajamas?”
  • Set rules beforehand. When your child knows what to expect, they can feel secure, and you have a shared frame of reference. For example, when getting ready to run errands, you can say, “I won’t be buying any candy today, but you can bring a snack from home. Would you like crackers or fruit?”
  • Plan ahead to avoid difficult situations. Thinking about possible scenarios can help you prepare, or avoid difficult circumstances altogether. For example, you may realize that your trip to visit family will mean your child will have a later than usual bedtime, which could make them more prone to tantrums.
  • Remain calm. Though keeping calm can seem difficult at times, it is an important thing to practice. This way, you are less likely to lose your temper, or give in and break the rules you set for your child. Model proper behavior and emotional control for your child as often as you can.

Conscious Discipline aims to help children express their feelings, regulate emotions, problem-solve through an issue, and create strong connections with others. In this way, your child can learn appropriate behaviors based on their relationships, and understand what is expected of them.

The Importance of Routine for Children

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The Importance of Routine for Children

As adults, our reaction to routine varies. Some of us rely on routine, while others feel it’s dull. However, young children are different. Here are some of the benefits your child can gain from a consistent routine in daily life.

  • Increased confidence and independence. According to Dr. Peter Gorski of Harvard Medical School, knowing what to expect from daily life can develop a child’s confidence. Being able to rely on past experiences in a safe environment allows your child to feel comfortable performing the same activities, such as putting on pajamas, on their own.
  • Greater self-control. If a child has no limits on when they can watch cartoons, for example, they may not learn that sometimes they have to turn the TV off in order to do something less fun. A routine helps your child understand the balance between enjoyable tasks such as play, and functional tasks such as brushing their teeth.
  • Stress reduction. When a child has a predictable daily routine, it reminds them that they are in a secure, loving environment. If your child knows what they can reasonably expect to happen each day, they don’t worry about “what if” scenarios, and it’s also easier for you to enforce rules. When your child knows what is expected of them, it will help to reduce their stress.
  • Exposure to healthy habits. When your child routinely performs the same activities such as washing hands before meals, cleaning teeth, and taking a walk after dinner, it may seem like just an organized way to get things done on time. However, this repetition also creates habits around these healthy activities that your child can carry with them naturally into later life.  

Tips for creating routines for your child

There is no perfect routine for each family, because each family is different. You should design a routine based on your family’s unique situation and needs. However, think about a routine that is well-planned and regular, with reasonable roles that everyone in the family understands. Depending on your child’s age, you may consider creating routines for the following:

  • Getting ready for preschool, school, or daycare
  • Getting ready for bed
  • Eating a meal as a family at the same time each day
  • Spending time outdoors together
  • Visiting friends and family
  • Attending a place of worship
  • Holding a family game or movie night
  • Working on arts and crafts together
  • Doing family chores

While routines are important for your child, it is also important to remain flexible, leaving room for free, unscheduled time. This will help your child learn how to deal with unpredictability and change, and will also prevent a family routine from becoming a source of stress.

Helping Your Child Stay Safe Online

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Helping Your Child Stay Safe Online

Today’s preschooler is surrounded by technology, and may already have experience accessing the internet to watch videos or play games.

However limited your preschooler’s internet exposure, there are still inherent risks involved. For example, your child may encounter content they find confusing or disturbing, they may come into contact with strangers, or they may accidentally make an in-app purchase.

Here are some ways you can help your young child stay safe online.

1) Understand the apps on your child’s device

Whether your child has their own kid-friendly tablet, or uses your phone to take selfies with you, be aware of the functionality of all devices your child encounters. Check to see if the device can do things such as take photos or videos, share photos or videos, search the internet, download apps, or send and receive instant messages.

2) Activate parental controls on all of your devices

Nearly all popular devices such as smartphones and tablets come equipped with parental controls. You can use this feature to enable a passcode, disable in-app purchases, and control what age-level media will be shown on that device. On apps such as Netflix, you can create user accounts specifically for your child.

Additionally, you may want to investigate software tools that can add an extra layer of security to your family’s computer or tablet. For example, Net Nanny masks profanity, monitors social media, and sends reports about your child’s online activity.

3) Determine if any other devices in your home connect to the internet

Thanks to “the Internet of Things,” many of our everyday household devices connect to the internet and share data. While most of these devices pose no threat to your child’s online safety, it’s a good idea to investigate the functionality of these items.

For example, does your e-book reader have Wi-Fi access? Does your family video game console have a microphone enabled? Does your computer monitor have a built-in webcam? Review the features for your internet-connected household devices to ensure all security settings are up to date, and understand what personal information is being collected.

4) Restrict website access

Depending on your child’s age, they may already know how to access the internet and search for songs, games, photos, or videos. You can help your child stay safe online by restricting their access to certain kid-friendly sites. Some examples include:

  • Kiddle – A safe, child-friendly, visual search engine powered by Google.
  • National Geographic Kids – Games, videos, and articles teach children about the world and how it works.
  • PBS Kids – Age-appropriate games and videos featuring some of your child’s favorite characters.
  • NetSmartzKids – Aimed at children ages 5-17, NetSmartzKids offers age-appropriate videos and games to help teach internet safety.

5) Monitor your child when they’re using a device

As a parent or caregiver, you are your child’s main source of information about internet safety. Ensuring that your child is not using an internet-connected device unsupervised is beneficial for both of you. Not only will you rest easy knowing what your child is doing, but your child can also ask you questions about the apps or websites they are visiting. You can also more easily keep an eye on the amount of screen time your child is getting.

The internet has the potential to help your preschooler learn more about their world and learn important skills. By understanding your devices, setting parental controls, and monitoring your child’s internet use, your young child can stay safe while playing videos and games online.

Why Gratitude is Important for Children

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Why Gratitude is Important for Children

With Thanksgiving around the corner, you’re likely thinking of ways you can teach your child about gratitude. But why is it so important that you do so?

Benefits in childhood

There are immediate benefits for a child learning about gratitude. Studies have shown that children who are taught to be grateful receive health and social benefits such as:

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

Benefits in later life

According to Dr. Jeffrey J. Froh of Hofstra University, teenagers who were grateful had more self-control, and a recent study suggests that gratitude may reduce aggressive or violent behaviors. Being able to put themselves in another person’s shoes allows children to care for and relate to others. Gratitude shows people that they have benefited from the kindness of others, and so in turn they are more likely to perform kind acts themselves.

Additionally, Psychology Today reports that “grateful people are found to be generally happier, with more social connections and fewer bouts of depression, which affects 20.9 million American adults.”

Age-appropriate ways to teach your child gratitude

It’s never too late to start teaching your child to be grateful.

Toddlers may not yet fully grasp the concept of being grateful, but they are beginning to understand that people do things to make them happy, which is one part of the gratitude equation.

Between the ages of two and four, you can begin introducing concepts of gratitude such as goodwill, empathy, and saying thank you. Some examples include:

  • Asking your preschooler what their favorite part of their day was
  • Thanking your child for a kind act such as a hug or sharing
  • Talking about the non-material things that make you happy
  • Having your child help you with thank-you notes, whether it’s writing their name or decorating
  • Asking your child to draw a picture of something they are grateful for
  • Discussing feelings with your child, for example: “Do you think the new girl in your class is sad because she doesn’t know anybody yet? What do you think you could do to help her?”
  • Letting your child see you donating to charity or helping another person
  • Allowing your child to help with age-appropriate chores

As always, patience and consistency are key in helping your child learn gratitude. No matter the time of year, gratitude will give your child several important benefits that will improve their life both now and in the future.

Physical Activity Ideas for Young Children

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Physical Activity Ideas for Young Children

Regular physical activity is critical for young children. According to Let’s Move! Child Care, the benefits of physical activity include: fewer behavior problems; longer attention spans; increased confidence; better performance in school; improved social skills; strong bones; better sleep habits; and increased strength and flexibility.

Incorporating physical activity into your young child’s life can be fun and easy. Here are ideas to help your child keep active both indoors and outdoors.

Indoor activity ideas

  • Put on some music and dance. Young children love to dance to music, and you can keep it interesting by having them invent their own dance or having them mimic your own movements.
  • Practice throwing, catching, and kicking. Throwing a bouncy ball around your living room isn’t always a good idea, but you can substitute with a small bean bag or even a rolled-up pair of socks.
  • Create an indoor obstacle course. Using household items such as stools, chairs, stuffed animals, and storage bins, you can create a fun supervised indoor obstacle course. Look for ways to help your child practice balancing, jumping, throwing, and running.
  • Not only can yoga help your child relieve stress, it can also increase their flexibility, strength, and balance. Yoga studios often have classes for children, and there are also many books and online videos available.

Outdoor activity ideas

  • Visit the playground. You likely won’t need to convince your child to visit your local playground. Depending on your child’s age, there are multiple chances to climb, swing, run, and jump.
  • Go for a bike ride. Bike rides are a fun outdoor activity. Even a quick trip down the block after dinner is an ideal opportunity for the entire family to spend quality time together while being active.
  • Hopscotch or jump rope. Games like hopscotch and jump rope are not only fun, but they also increase coordination and bone strength. With hopscotch, your child can get involved and help you create a court with sidewalk chalk.
  • Take a walk. Walking is an easy way to incorporate physical activity into your child’s everyday life. You might want to start walking with your child to and from school, going for family hikes on the weekend, or even just taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood.

For more ideas on helping your child get more active, you can also visit your local recreation center for drop-in classes or organized sports. Your child’s preschool or daycare is also an ideal resource for easy and fun physical activity ideas for your child.

7 Baking Recipes For Kids

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7 Baking Recipes For Kids

Getting your child to help out in the kitchen is not only fun, but it helps them to feel included in the family. These seven easy baking recipes are ideal for children to help you make, and are a fun treat for the whole family.

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Using just four ingredients, these peanut butter cookies can be ready in under half an hour. Depending on the age of your child, they can help with mixing the dough, rolling the dough into balls, or creating the criss-cross shape on the cookies with a fork.

No-Bake Chocolate Pie

This recipe is made quick and easy with the inclusion of store-bought graham cracker crust, instant chocolate pudding, and whipped cream cheese. As most of this recipe involves whisking, your child may be able to do most of the preparation on their own. If you opt to make your own crust, your child can help you mix the ingredients as well.

Maple Pecan Baked Apples

This warming dessert recipe makes great use of fall apples. Your child can get involved by selecting the apples, choosing the fillings and mixing the ingredients.

Focaccia Bread

This recipe offers an ideal opportunity for your child to learn about the way yeast, flour, sugar and salt become bread. Your child can help you sprinkle the yeast over the water, mix the flours and salt, and punch down the dough. Depending on your child’s age, they might have fun kneading the dough as well.

Happy Face Biscuits

These biscuits afford a unique, hands-on opportunity for your child to have fun with baking. There are several small tasks your child can help with, and they can create their own faces by rolling dough into eyes, noses, and mouths.

Kid-Friendly Pizza

While this recipe is for bell pepper and feta pizza, the flavors can be modified based on your child’s tastes. Your child can feel involved by selecting their toppings and placing them on the pizza. Using store-bought prepared pizza dough will also save time.

Healthy Bites

These easy and nutritious bites involve just a few ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. Your child can help you measure and mix the ingredients, and might be able to roll the bites into the ball shapes depending on their age.

Not only is helping in the kitchen a fun way for your child to get involved, but measuring and counting ingredients are ideal ways to introduce them to basic math concepts as well. These seven easy baking recipes for kids are ideal ways to get started.

6 Ways to Teach Your Preschooler About Money

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6 Ways to Teach Your Preschooler About Money

While preschool-age might seem too early to teach your child about being responsible with money, they already understand that money is important in our society.

Here are six ways you can teach your preschooler about money.

1) Have age-appropriate conversations about money

Your preschooler sees you withdrawing cash from ATMs and using your credit card to buy groceries on a regular basis. These everyday moments are an ideal opportunity to introduce your child to money. For example, you can say, “We keep our money safe in the bank, and I use this machine to get some to buy our food.”

2) Demonstrate the cost of goods and services

While you’re running errands with your child, you can discuss what you’re buying, and how much it costs. When paying, let your child see you counting and handing your money to the cashier. If you’re paying with a debit card, you can tell your child, “This card takes money out of my bank account and gives it to the store.”

3) Play games involving imaginary money

Exposing your child to play with imaginary money is a good, risk-free way to help them understand the concept of paying for goods and services. Even though preschoolers’ math skills may not yet lend themselves to complex addition and subtraction, they can still play games like “store” or “restaurant” in a simple way. For example, you can ask how much an ice cream cone costs, and hand over the appropriate amount of play money.

4) Give them control over small amounts of money

While many parents of preschoolers feel their child is too young to get a regular allowance, children should still be shown how to earn and save money. You may want to put them in charge of a coin jar, which they can fill with small change that they earn whenever they perform a certain household task such as helping to set the table. This will help them make the connection between work and money, and give them a sense of ownership and responsibility.

According to a study conducted by asset management firm T. Rowe Price, children whose parents let them decide how to manage their money are less likely to spend it as soon as they receive it.

5) Let your child see you work 

Another way to help your child understand the relationship between work and money is to show them where you work. If possible, bring them to your workplace for a visit, and let them see your workspace and ask questions. This can help your child understand that work is a place where you perform tasks to earn money for the household.

6) Model responsible saving and spending

Even if your preschooler may not yet understand the intricacies of financial planning, they can still be influenced by your attitudes and behavior about money. Do you argue with your spouse about spending? Do you compare prices when grocery shopping? Do you pay for everything on your credit card automatically, or do you wait until you can pay with cash? Be mindful of what your child is observing, and what message it may be sending them about financial habits.

The concept of money may seem like a complicated one for preschoolers to understand. However, with these six ways to teach your preschooler about money, they will learn basic financial lessons in an age-appropriate way.

Promoting Teamwork in Children

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Promoting Teamwork in Children

As adults, we know how important it is to be able to work successfully with others. Teamwork is an important skill for young children to learn, as it provides benefits for later life.

Here are some ways you can help to promote teamwork in your child.

Model cooperative behavior at home

Young children take their behavioral cues from their parents, so the home is an ideal place to demonstrate teamwork. Asking your child to help with simple household tasks such as cleaning up their toys or putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket will help them to see how their actions contribute to the family. Ensure that your child also sees you working in cooperation with other members of the family.

Encourage collaborative games

Children learn during play, so try to get your child involved in games where teamwork is key to success. Some examples of collaborative games that are also fun include: Building a block tower, putting together a puzzle, Duck Duck Goose, a relay race, and bouncing a ball on a parachute. Emphasize to your child that the focus is not competition, but working together.

Look for everyday opportunities for teamwork

Aside from collaborative games, there are plenty of cooperation opportunities in daily life. Activities that may seem minor can have a great impact on a child learning about their world. For example, if your children love pizza, you can have a build-your-own-pizza night at home and have the siblings add their favorite toppings together.

Praise cooperative behavior

When your child is cooperating well with another person, praising them will help them to understand that teamwork is good behavior. For example, you might thank your child for playing nicely with a friend, or express admiration of a drawing your children created together.

Ask your preschool for teamwork advice

Whether you want teamwork ideas specific to your child, or have questions about how to best teach problem-solving, your child’s preschool or daycare is an ideal resource. Not only do they have experience with children of all temperaments and personalities, but they also know your child quite well. Your child’s preschool teacher will also be able to offer advice based on the latest strategies and best practices in early childhood education.

Being able to work with others toward a common goal is a valuable social skill for children to practice. Encouraging teamwork in your toddler or preschooler can be fun as well as educational with our easy tips.

Ideas for One-on-One Time With Your Child

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Ideas for One-on-One Time With Your Child

According to a study by the University of Iowa, infants and children who have a close relationship with a parent are less likely to experience emotional and behavioral issues later in life. As parents, spending time with your child in a meaningful way is always enjoyable. Here are some ideas for one-on-one activities you can do with your child.

  • Go for a walk around the neighborhood. This is a great way to get some exercise, as well as explore the world around you.
  • Take a trip to the library. Talk to your child about their favorite books and let them pick one or two to check out. Later, you can read these books together.
  • Play dress-up. Imaginative play is not only fun, but it’s also a great way for your child to learn language concepts and practice empathy.
  • Use chore time wisely. If your child is helping with household chores, it can be a great time for conversation as well. You can ask about their day and learn more about how they’re feeling.
  • Share in their interests. For example, if your preschooler loves trains, you can spend a few minutes playing on their toy railroad with them, or you can make a day trip out of train-watching at your local station.
  • Run errands together. Going to the grocery store or bank doesn’t need to be boring for your child. Getting your child involved and helping in some way will allow them to feel part of the trip. You may also want to build a treat into the errand, such as a break for ice cream, to make the trip memorable for them.
  • Create a craft together. Making something creative and fun is an ideal bonding experience that doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.
  • Cook their favorite meal. If your child has a favorite meal such as tacos or pizza, preparing it together will be especially enjoyable for them.
  • Get active. Playing a game with your child such as catch, tag, or even hide and seek is an ideal bonding opportunity – and another way to stay active.
  • Play video games. While physical activity is important, studies show that video games can teach problem-solving, healthy competition, and creative self-expression. Have your child teach you Minecraft, or introduce them to your own favorite childhood games.
  • Write a story. Children have expansive imaginations. Together, you can create a story about a topic of your choice. Write it down and decorate your “book” for a tangible keepsake.
  • Work on a puzzle. Collaborating on a small project is an ideal way to bond with your child, and help them practice cooperation and problem-solving.
  • Learn something together. Whether it’s taking a family music class or visiting an educational attraction at the zoo, the shared experience of learning can be meaningful to both you and your child.

Spending quality time with your child can give them a feeling of security, which is a strong foundation for healthy development. Even 15 minutes of your undivided attention will show your child that they are important and loved. This will strengthen their self-esteem and provide benefits for later life.