Child Development

Heartfelt Crafts: Fabric Flower Prints

pansy  IMAG1976

There was an open house at a “natural” craft store for kids this week and it was GREAT!  http://www.heartfeltonline.com/

The first project we did was to create flower prints on muslin (available at any fabric store).

Here are the instructions to make your flower/fabric print.

1. Place a piece of scrap paper on a piece of wood.

2. Put the flower on top of the paper.

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3. Cover the flower with a piece of muslin and start hammering gently.

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As you hammer, the color from the flower bleeds through.

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To set the color in the fabric, iron it between two pieces of fabric.

Get creative and use different sizes of fabrics and different color flowers. The sky is the limit.

Frame and hang. It’s as simple as that and is really beautiful!

Skills: Appreciation of nature, manual dexterity, fine and gross motor coordination, recognition of colors, physical properties of flowers, art.

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Children Can Meditate Too

ImageI LOVE this concept. Children meditating. Children engaging in stress-reducing activities at a young age. My daughter has learned “The Volcano Breath” at school.

They rub their hands together while calming and then blast them into the air with a big out breath! I use it when things are getting riled up in the household and the energy level is about to blow off the roof.

“Volcano breath, Honey! Quick, Volcano Breath!”

She stops whatever whirlwind she’s in the middle of and runs to me all smiles. She quick starts rubbing her hands together and then blast-off! 

She’s calm, if only for a minute.

This is from an article I cut out on the topic of health and mindfulness meditation:

http://ecologyhealthcenter.net/node/1064

“A few minutes of daily mindfulness meditation can help take attention away from tummy troubles of all kinds for school-age kids, too.

Here’s one way to get started:

Have your child hold a flower (or another small, pretty object) in her hands. Encourage her to pretend she’s never seen a flower before, and have her describe what it looks like, what it smells like, how the petals feel—even what it sounds like. Gaylord says that focusing on something other than symptoms brings a person’s attention into the present moment—helping her think less about stomach pain or anxiety.”

Let’s try it! Find ways to integrate “living in the moment” into our children’s live. Let’s work on those self-calming strategies if only for a few moments or perhaps before going to bed.

There’s more to explore on this topic and I’m looking forward to it. I’m guessing that nature has its own natural sedative properties…how can they be put to use in this process?!

More Support for the Out of Doors (Nature and Children)

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20 Reasons Why Playing Outdoors Makes Children Smarter

http://www.houstonfamilymagazine.com/exclusives/20-reasons-why-playing-outdoors-makes-children-smarter/

By Stacey Loscalzo

Author and clinical psychologist, Kay Redfield Jamison, writes, “Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” It is through unstructured, open-ended creative play that children learn the ways of the world. While playing outside, children explore with all their senses, they witness new life, they create imaginary worlds and they negotiate with each other to create a playful environment.

1. Outdoor play is a multi-sensory activity. While outdoors, children will see, hear, smell and touch things unavailable to them when they play inside. They use their brains in unique ways as they come to understand these new stimuli.

2. Playing outside brings together informal play and formal learning. Children can incorporate concepts that have learned at school in a hands on way while outdoors. For example, seeing and touching the roots of a tree will bring to life the lesson their teacher had taught about how plants get their nutrients.

3. Playing outdoors stimulates creativity. Robin Moore, an expert in the design of play and learning environments, says, “Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imagination and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity.” Rocks, stones and dirt present limitless opportunities for play that can be expressed differently every time a child steps outside.

4. Playing outdoors is open ended. There is no instruction manual for outdoor play. Children make the rules and in doing so use their imagination, creativity, intelligence and negotiation skills in a unique way.

5. Playing in nature reduces anxiety.Time spent outside physiologically reduces anxiety. Children bring an open mind and a more relaxed outlook back inside when they are in more traditional learning environments.

6. Outdoor play increases attention span. Time spent in unstructured play outdoors is a natural attention builder.Often children who have difficulty with pen and paper tasks or sitting still for longer periods of times are significantly more successful after time spent outside.

7. Outdoor play is imaginative. Because there are no labels, no pre-conceived ideas and no rules, children must create the world around them. In this type of play children use their imagination in ways they don’t when playing inside.

8. Being in nature develops respect for other living things. Children develop empathy, the ability to consider other people’s feeling, by interacting with creatures in nature. Watching a tiny bug, a blue bird or a squirrel scurrying up a tree gives children the ability to learn and grow from others.

9. Outdoor play promotes problem solving. As children navigate a world in which they make the rules, they must learn to understand what works and what doesn’t, what line of thinking brings success and failure, how to know when to keep trying and when to stop.

10. Playing outside promotes leadership skills. In an environment where children create the fun, natural leaders will arise. One child may excel at explaining how to play the game while another may enjoy setting up the physical challenge of an outdoor obstacle course. All types of leadership skills are needed and encouraged.

11. Outdoor play widens vocabulary. While playing outdoors, children may see an acorn, a chipmunk and cumulous clouds. As they encounter new things, their vocabulary will expand in ways it never could indoors.

12. Playing outside improves listening skills. As children negotiate the rules of an invented game, they must listen closely to one another, ask questions for clarification and attend to the details of explanations in ways they don’t have to when playing familiar games.

13. Being in nature improves communication skills. Unclear about the rules in an invented game? Not sure how to climb the tree or create the fairy house? Children must learn to question and clarify for understanding while simultaneously making themselves understood.

14. Outdoor play encourages cooperative play. In a setting where there aren’t clear winners and losers, children work together to meet a goal. Perhaps they complete a self-made obstacle course or create a house for a chipmunk. Together they compromise and work together to meet a desired outcome.

15. Time in nature helps children to notice patterns. The natural world is full of patterns. The petals on flowers, the veins of a leaf, the bark on a tree are all patterns. Pattern building is a crucial early math skill.

16. Playing outdoors helps children to notice similarities and differences. The ability to sort items and notice the similarities and differences in them is yet another skill crucial to mathematical success. Time outdoors affords many opportunities for sorting.

17. Time spent outdoors improves children’s immune systems. Healthy children are stronger learners. As children spend more and more time outdoors, their immune systems improve decreasing time out of school for illness.

18. Outdoor play increases children’s physical activity level. Children who play outdoors are less likely to be obese and more likely to be active learners. Children who move and play when out of school are ready for the attention often needed for classroom learning.

19. Time spent outdoors increases persistence. Outdoor games often require persistence. Children must try and try again if their experiment fails. If the branch doesn’t reach all the way across the stream or the bark doesn’t cover their fairy house, they must keep trying until they are successful.

20. Outdoor play is fun. Children who are happy are successful learners. Children are naturally happy when they moving, playing and creating outside. This joy opens them up for experimenting, learning and growing.

 Bio: Stacey Loscalzo is a freelance writer and mother of two girls living in Ridgewood, NJ. She and her girls have been getting outside to play for nearly a decade.

Writing about Reading Apps: Goodnight Moon and Dr. David Walsh

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/181275901.html?refer=y

READING AS RITUAL

An Article by: DAVID WALSH

Don’t let an app stop parents from reading books to their children.

“Goodnight kittens, and goodnight mittens”

“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.”

These are but a few of the melodic and soothing verses that stir warm childhood memories for millions around the world. “Goodnight Moon” isn’t a book. It’s a ritual.

My three children, all now parents themselves, swear they remember listening to me or my wife read this children’s classic before getting tucked in for the night. While these may not be literal memories, because their brains were too young, they are a testament to the emotional power the book has had for 65 years.

My four grandchildren all include “Goodnight Moon” as one of their “required” books at naptime. I’ve noticed that each snuggles a little closer as the red balloon hanging above the bed disappears from some pages only to reappear later.

Reading aloud is one of the most important — and enjoyable — parenting and grandparenting activities we can share with our children. Science tells us it’s the first building block for literacy. Babies love the soothing sounds of a familiar voice reading. Even when they prefer “eating” their books, they are beginning to make the mental connection we want. They’re associating reading with comfort, security and enjoyment. That link is a great foundation for raising readers. As a masterpiece like “Goodnight Moon” proves, it also creates emotional memories that last a lifetime.

That’s the reason I was appalled to read that there is now an app that downloads the story onto a smartphone or tablet computer (“Say goodnight to boredom of ‘Goodnight Moon,'” Nov. 27).

The purpose of the app is to rescue parents from the boredom of reading the book to their children. Boring? Let’s remember that the book is not written for parents. It’s for children, and there is a wealth of information to pique their interest. For example, there are more than 20 details that change from page to page. A 3-year-old can tell you that the socks disappear from the drying rack when the mittens are wished “goodnight,” but they reappear later.

What this app, should anyone actually pay $4.95 for it, really would do is to rob children of an invaluable experience. Children need to hear a human voice and sit in a human lap. It would be sad indeed if some bored parents let their children “snuggle up” with an iPad as they drift off to sleep.

* * *

David Walsh is a Minneapolis psychologist and author of the books “Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids,” “Why do They Act That Way?, and “No: Why Kids–Of All Ages–Need to Hear It and Why Parents Can Say It.”

http://drdavewalsh.com/

 

Imaginary Play from BabyCenter

http://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-raise-an-imaginative-child_65586.bc?scid=preschooler_20120626:3&pe=MlVBUVFYYnwyMDEyMDYyNg

It’s no surprise if by now you find yourself living with a princess, a unicorn, Batman, or a Tyrannosaurus rex. Children are hardwired to be imaginative, and your preschooler’s imagination has really gotten rolling. And you get to be privy to more and more of her make-believe world, now that she has more sophisticated verbal skills.

Although you could sit by and watch the fun, it’s even better if you join in now and then. “A preschooler’s imagination develops naturally, but there’s a lot you can do to spark it,” says Kristi Alexander, a pediatric psychologist at AlliantInternationalUniversity in San Diego. “As you expose her to new sights, sounds, and sensations, you open her mind to a bigger world.” At each stage of your child’s imaginative development, listening to her and taking part in her games (when you’re welcome, of course) will help you keep up with what she’s thinking. And who knows? You might revitalize your own imagination in the process.

How your preschooler’s imagination works

Your preschooler has probably gotten the hang of thinking abstractly: The couch can easily become a ship at sea, and her toast makes a perfectly plausible telephone. Now she may also engage in increasingly social games of pretend — playing “kitty family” with you, for example. (Warning: She’ll probably be the mama cat, and you’ll get the role of helpless kitten.)

Why encouraging imagination is important

An active imagination helps your preschooler in more ways than you might think.

Improving vocabulary. Children who play imaginary games or listen to lots of fairy tales, stories read aloud from books, or tales spun by those around them tend to have noticeably better vocabularies.

Taking control. Pretending lets your preschooler be anyone he wants, practice things he’s learned, and make situations turn out the way he wants. Stories where the brave little boy thwarts the evil witch or playacted fantasies of being the one to rescue his fellow pirates from that sinking ship give him a sense that he can be powerful and in control even in unfamiliar or scary situations.

Learning social rules. Getting along socially can be tricky at any age. When your preschooler joins the other kids in the sandbox to create a castle out of sand, sticks, and leaves, she’s not only exploring a fantasy world, she’s learning complex, real-world rules about sharing, social interaction, and resolving conflicts.

Solving problems. Dreaming up imaginary situations teaches your child to think creatively in real life. Whether at school or at home, it’s often adults who decide what children will do and how they’ll do it, and it’s adults who solve any problems that arise. But in play, kids decide what to do and how to do it (how to capture the monster, for example), and how to solve problems (anything from what to do about Bobby’s skinned knee to how to include a pouty playmate who feels left out).

What you can do to spark your preschooler’s imagination

Read books. Reading stories together about unfamiliar lands and people is a good way to fuel your child’s fantasy life, and books that expand her vocabulary of words and images will help, too. (How can you imagine sailing a pirate ship if you’ve never seen one?) With storybooks, she can explore visual details, make up stories, and “read” to herself. If you’re reading the text, stop often to explore the pictures and talk about what’s happening: “Imagine how Annie must have felt when she lost her sister’s ring!” Encourage your preschooler to make up her own endings to the stories you read. Read about the world, show her pictures of everything from beetles to pinwheels, and explore in further detail those things that interest her most.

Share stories. Telling your own made-up stories is just as good for your child’s imagination as reading a book together. Not only will your tales provide a sense of possibilities for his inventive thinking, they’ll demonstrate the basics of creating characters and plots. And using your child as the main character is a great way to expand his sense of self.

Before long, your preschooler will offer her own narratives and adventures. In fact, because her understanding of the difference between reality and fantasy is still limited, she may occasionally make up a wild story she fully expects everyone to believe. Play along and enjoy her creativity — as long as it’s all in good fun. If your child is frightening herself with a scary tale (e.g., there’s a monster in her closet), put on the brakes and clarify what’s real and what’s not.

Another idea: Trade off lines of a story. While you’re driving, say to her, “Once upon a time there was a dog. She lived with a little girl, and they liked to go to the park. One day…” Then give your child a turn. Let her tell the fun parts, like naming the girl and the dog and describing the climax and the ending.

Relish her artwork. For most preschoolers, exploration of materials is the most important aspect of making art. So as she works with the supplies you’ve given her — water, clay, sand, dough, paints, papers, buttons, ribbons — respect the process. For her, a piece of cardboard glued onto some colored paper is a good enough result. She doesn’t want or need to hear that her finished puppet “should look like this.”

Even “pictures” at this point will be largely lines and shapes on the page, though by age 4 many kids start dabbling in representational drawing. When your preschooler draws a picture, rather than trying to guess what it is (unless she’s a budding Rembrandt, chances are you’ll guess wrong anyway), ask her to interpret it for you. Instead of “What a beautiful house!” say, “What cool colors you’ve used! What’s happening in this picture?”

Make music. Although your child probably isn’t ready for structured piano lessons, you can still fill her world with music. Listen to a variety of tunes together, and encourage her to participate by singing, dancing, or playing homemade or toy instruments. She can follow along with a song being played, or make up her own, complete with lyrics. (Be sure to have a video or audio recorder on hand!)

Encourage pretend play. Children learn a lot from dramatizing events from their daily — and fantasy — lives. When your preschooler invents a scenario and plot line and peoples it with characters (“I’m the daddy and you’re the baby and you’re sick”), he develops social and verbal skills. He’ll work out emotional issues as he replays scenarios that involve feeling sad, happy, frightened, or safe. Imagining himself as a superhero, a horse, or a wizard makes him feel powerful and gives him a sense of what it’s like to be in charge. And he develops his understanding of cause and effect as he imagines how you or his friend or his cat would behave in a particular situation. He’s also exploring the world of discipline, since he’s making the rules, either by himself or with the help of a playmate (the array of intricate rules kids come up with always astounds adults).

Provide props. Towels become turbans, plastic bracelets become precious jewels, old bathroom rugs turn into magic carpets, and that moth-eaten collection of stuffed animals transforms itself into a rain forest, animal hospital, or farm. Because preschoolers love to take on the role of someone else — a parent, a baby, a pet — a simple object like a toy cash register or a chalkboard can be all that’s needed to spark creative play. Since most of the action takes place inside your child’s head, the best props are often generic, and detailed costumes modeled after specific cartoon characters or action figures aren’t really the ticket here.

Providing a special box or trunk to hold pretending paraphernalia can make fantasy play even more of an adventure, especially if you occasionally restock when your child’s not looking (“Let’s see what’s in the trunk today!”). Including more than one of the same item can help, too, since two pirates or princesses are always better than one.

Use the computer judiciously. Just because tech companies are churning out software for kids doesn’t mean your child will turn out computer-illiterate if she doesn’t do daily computer time. Still, there are some quality programs for preschoolers that can spark your child’s imagination, from drawing, painting, and music software to virtual treasure hunts. And the Internet can be an invaluable resource for looking up topics of interest — hunting down the latest photos of Jupiter or colorful pictures of a coral reef — and for exposing your child to different cultures and ideas from around the world.

Limit TV time. When it comes to your child’s TV viewing, less is better. There are some excellent programs out there that teach kids, say, how a baby kangaroo behaves or how other kids their age live in Japan, and you can record shows to provide quality programming at convenient times. But don’t overdo it.

Movies and TV shows tend to limit a budding imagination since they do the visualizing for your child. The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics recommends that children aged 2 and over stick to no more than one to two hours of entertainment media per day. Resist the temptation to use TV as an electronic babysitter; instead, sit and watch along with her, posing questions, expanding on ideas presented in the show or movie, and finding out what strikes her as most interesting.

How to live with your preschooler’s imagination

Set limits. Creating and enforcing rules — no hitting with the “sword” — is crucial for everyone’s sake. But if you can, let your child live for a bit with the reminders of her flights of fancy. The fact that the dining room table isn’t available for dinner because it’s currently serving as an igloo gives you the perfect excuse to have a “picnic” on the living room floor.

Accept her imaginary friend. Experts believe that having an imaginary friend is a sign of a creative, social child who’s found a way to help manage her own fears or concerns. Some studies suggest as many as half of kids have an imaginary pal at some point.

However, if your child starts blaming the buddy for something she did, it’s time for a reality check. You don’t need to accuse her of lying, but do address the behavior. Have your child, along with the imaginary sidekick, rectify the situation (clean up the mess, apologize, etc.) and make it clear the act was unacceptable.

Keep messes manageable. Yes, reenacting the story of Hansel and Gretel might lead to a trail of crumbs through the living room. If you have the space, it’s a good idea to designate a room, or part of a room, as an arts and crafts corner, where your child is free to create without worrying about making a mess.

Some containment strategies can also help: Old button-down shirts make great smocks when worn backwards with the sleeves cut off, plastic sheeting under the Play-Doh construction site can protect the rug, and large sheets of butcher paper over the crafts table can prevent an encrusted layer of multicolored paints or glue.

Enjoy the offbeat. When your child wants to wear his space commander outfit to preschool for the third day in a row, it’s tempting to say no. Adults are socialized to draw strict lines between “public” and “private” behavior — your funky gray sweatpants and rabbit slippers are fine around the house, but not at a restaurant — and it’s hard to realize children don’t think that way. But if you find yourself forcing a confrontation (“Take off your Halloween costume now“), remember that your preschooler doesn’t recognize these boundaries yet, and consider letting it go. In the grand scheme of things, a kid in a kooky outfit may not be worth worrying about.

Tuesday: A Poem for LC from her Marmee

Tuesday

I’ll do it Tuesday she says
when asked to put away her toys.
Put on your socks we say
and learn they’ll be on her feet on Tuesday.
Time to get up for breakfast,
just two more minutes she says
and snuggles deeper into the blankets.
OK, now hurry to the potty but that
too will happen next Tuesday.
So a three-year old processes
her world and all those times
she’s heard about from adults.
Two minutes more, next Tuesday,
right now are all one
and all wonderful.

Brenda Robert
October 1, 2012

Teaching Toddlers Values: The Creation of a Person

I’ve recently come to realize that parenting a toddler is a full time job, and not just in the tedious, labor intensive way that building a house or plowing snow is.

It’s about something much more critical to the long-term well being of our children. It’s about the oh-so-important job of creating a person.

CREATING A PERSON?

Yes, creating a person—a person that we as parents can be proud of. A person that is steal, lie or cheat in order to get their basic needs met. It’s about creating a person who can move through the world with ease and with dignity. It’s about creating a person who knows right from wrong and acts according and about creating a person who gives and receives love and charity easily and with grace.

And it takes every second of every single minute that you’re with this little being-in-the-making.

There is no time for a break, no time to relax. If you stop to breathe for a moment you will miss a teachable moment.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like to relax and I don’t think I go toooverboard on the whole parenting business. It’s just that these little free-spirited toddlers that know no impulse control and are running around like little savages don’t give you the opportunity to take a moment to rest and to breathe.

When they smack the dog in the head you are forced to take the opportunity to teach the value of kindness and gentleness towards others. When they march into the Director’s office of the daycare and say “I have sticker?” you have to teach them the value of good manners. “Say ‘por favor’! Say ‘gracias’! Say ‘adios’!” (My daughter actually goes to an amazing daycare where the staff are all native Spanish speakers and they speak Spanish all day to the children.)

Here’s a short list of some of the values I’ve identified as ones that I subconsciously and consciously have been trying to teach my toddler:

1. Expressing and Exuding Kindness of Spirit

I want my child to be a warm and good person. I want her to show her friends that she loves them and appreciates them. I want her to be kind and friendly to people she knows and to strangers she meets in the street. I encourage her to approach people and when she spontaneously smiles and engages in conversation with strangers, I facilitate the conversation whether the person on the receiving end is interested or not. I don’t want to squelch the natural social behaviors that I see coming from her on a daily basis.

2. Sharing

Every toddler needs to learn how to share and aren’t we given the daily opportunity to encourage that? I feel very fortunate that my child loves to share with her peers even when she is not asked to. Mostly this comes in the form of food. I have to ask myself if she is imitating me (given that 99% of what she does is mimicking my behavior), and if I think about it, she may certainly be doing so. I love to cook and I always offer some of what I have made to everyone around me.

3. Generosity

Similar to sharing. I want her to be generous to others and to share her belongings or her food or her toys. Generosity is a value that was instilled in me and I want to instill that in her as well. I want her to give and give freely. I want her to enjoy the warm feelings one gets from sharing and giving to others.

4. Expressing Love

I want my child to be warm, to give hugs, to show her friends and family that she likes and loves them.

5. Connecting with Others in a Meaningful Way

I want my daughter to develop meaningful relationships. I want her to greet others when she sees them after they’ve been gone and to say hello and good-bye and good-night to show that she cares about the presence they play in her life. It would be easy enough for her to not greet her peers and to just start playing but I make a point of having her go up to her friends and to say hello, to have her hold hands with them, to have her appreciate their friendship.

6. Engaging in Good Manners and Appropriate Social Behavior

Of course she needs to engage in the standard social niceties: Please, thank you, you’re welcome, hello, good-bye. No hitting, shoving, biting, etc.

7. Patience

This is a hard one to teach a toddler as they like to push the limits and to act as if nothing short of immediate gratification is acceptable. I deliberately use the word “patience” with her while she is waiting for something. I sit by her side and hold her close to me. “We need to be patient,” I tell her. “It’s hard, I know. Sometimes we need to wait. That is being patient.” I am trying to teach her the concept of patience rather than just the behavior of needing to wait. I think it will have more value in the long run this way.

8. Turn-taking

Turn-taking is about recognizing and understanding that there are other people in the world besides herself. As a concept and a behavior it goes beyond playing games or using the playground equipment. It is the understanding that we have our own needs but that we need to watch for and meet the needs of others, even if they do not ask us to.

9. Understanding and Acceptance of Diversity

This is harder to teach to toddlers but when she asks me questions about people who look different from her I explain the difference in a way that is factual, accepting and open, without secrets. I help her to understand what makes people different from each other.

10. To Love, Respect and Appreciate Nature

How could I forget this? In some ways it is the most important value in a technology-laden , eyes-glued-to-the-screen age. Because of an ever-increasing dependence on electronics, it is imperative that we teach our youngsters that the world is bigger than they are, that getting dirty is okay, and that food comes from the earth. Giving them the opportunity to feel leaves crunch under their feet, rain falling on their faces and dirt in their hands, are all ways we engage in the enormous job of teaching them to love and appreciate the earth and the world we live in.

How do you teach these values to little people?

Well, I’ve examined how my time is spent engaging in this ongoing task of facilitating the development of one (hopefully) amazing human being and this is what I’ve come up with…

  1. One of the ways is to model the behavior or action for her. Saying please to her; saying thank you to her; showing her how her momma does it. I read somewhere that this is actually more effective than continually reminding them of how to behave.
  2. Another way is reinforcing her positive behaviors. Anytime a “positive” behavior is produced you praise the heck out of them. If she spontaneously shares or offers a cookie to a friend, “That was wonderful! What a nice job you did sharing! You are sooo sweet!” Watch the happy look that comes over their face. They feel good having pleased you and are likely to repeat the behavior simply because of the praise they received.
  3. A third way is correcting negative behaviors. “We don’t hit when we’re angry. We say, ‘That makes me mad.” In addition to pointing out what they did wrong, and even more importantly, is to tell them what TO DO rather than what not to do. This can be very helpful when you’re in the moment. If your child is reaching out to hit, you can catch the hand and say… “No, no…we don’t hit to get what we want. We ask for what we need. Can you ask your friend for the ball?” Telling them what to do gives them a behavior they can act on rather than just feeling reprimanded or punished.

Well, those are my thoughts on teaching toddlers values. Interestingly, these are probably the values that will continue on as my child ages and develops. So, in essence, as parents we are creating the core values that our children will carry forth with them for the rest of their lives. It’s an amazing time in their development as they are soaking up everything like little sponges and imitating every little thing we do. This is the prime time for developing all of those pro-social behaviors that we want to see in our children. In essence, we’re in the throes of helping to create the people we want our children to be in ten and twenty years. It’s a big job – bigger than I ever imagined – but one that I signed up to do and one that I do not take lightly!

Summer Viritual Reading Club: Join the Fun and Help Your Child Succeed in School!

Did you know that reading to your chidlren is the best thing that you can do for their education? Kids that are read to consistently by their parents do better in school and on tests of math and English than children who did not have that experience.

Are you looking for something to do this summer with your kids while they are out of school?

This looks like such a fun idea!

Here’s the info from Inspiriation Laboratories, a blog about creativity and play for children.

My son and I love to read.  We enjoy finding new books and reading favorites over and over again.  Many of the activities we do are inspired by the books we read.  This summer we are joining a group of bloggers for a virtual book club.  Each month we will share books and activities from a different children’s author.

The Summer Virtual Book Club for Kids begins with Mo Willems as the featured author.

I must confess that I have only read a couple of his books and I have yet to read any of them with my son…so I am very excited about this!

Would you like to join us?

  1. Choose a book by Mo Willems.  {Have your kids help you pick a new one or choose your favorite to read.}
  2. Be inspired by the book and complete a related activity {project, craft, recipe, etc.}.
  3. On Monday, June 18th, come here to share your book and activities at our Mo Willems Blog Hop.

To get inspired, I’ve compiled a list of books by Mo Willems.  So many from which to choose!!

1. Don’t let the Pidgeon Drive the Bus!

2. Knuffle Bunny

3. We are in a Book!

4. Cat the Cat, Who is that?

5. Don’t let the Pigeon Stay up Late!

That’s just five of them. If you want to see the rest go to Inspiration Laboratories or to any other online bookstore, in person bookstore or library!

To the Parent Wanting an App to Teach Their Child to Talk

I was just looking through my blog statistics (it’s the researcher in me) and I saw that someone did an “engine search” (meaning they looked it up on Yahoo or Google) using the key words “best app for teaching a child to talk.”

Unbelievable.

As someone who has worked professionally with children and is trained in this area, I can confidently give you (the person who did the search) my professional opinion on your query (in case you decide to do the search again).

My opinion is the app called “You.”

You are the person your child will learn to speak from, not an app.

Here’s a primer on language development:

  • Talk to your child ALL THE TIME.
  • Narrate what you are doing as you are doing it: “Now I’m cracking the eggs. Look the eggs are yellow.”
  • Narrate what your child is doing as they do it: “Oh, you’re looking at the dolly. The dolly is pretty.”
  • Read to your child every day.
  • Spend as much one-on-one time with your child as you can: that means no t.v., no computers, no apps.
  • Pick one word and repeat it over and over and over again; pick a work that is meaningful to your child (milk, more, momma, dadda, help, no, eat, drink) and concentrate on working with your child on that word and that word alone.
  • If your child wants an object, prompt your child to say the name of the object before giving your child the object. “You want the milk? Can you say MIIILLLKK??” (If your child is unable to say the name of the object, give it to them before they become too frustrated and try again the next time.)
  • Praise your child for approximating the word. If they say “bu” for “ball” praise them a lot; lavish praise on them. “Yeah!!! Yes!!! You said “Bu!! BALL!!”

No speech therapist is going to use an app to teach your child to talk; they are going to work with your child and are going to label things for your child. They are going to point to objects and get your child excited about an object and say the name of the object slowly and carefully, over and over again. They are going to help your child develop speech by imitating other humans.

Computers are not the answers to our child’s speech, development or social problems. More likely than not, they contribute to these problems instead.

As I have said before, any time spent interacting with a cell phone or a computer or an i-pod is time your child could be interacting with a human. And human-to-human is much more powerful and meaningful than any human-to-machine interaction.