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Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Five Benefits of Teaching Children to Garden

Break out the seeds and bulbs because gardening season has arrived! Here are five benefits of showing your children how to garden.

  1. Gets children outside and active. Digging, planting and watering on a sunny afternoon are _72O8441_terrific ways to get some exercise while enjoying the beautiful weather.
  2. Children learn about science and the environment. This is an excellent opportunity to teach your child some basics of biology, such as how the sun helps plants to grow, how plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis and how vegetation contributes to a healthy environment.
  3. Teaches children how vegetables and fruits grow. Growing fruits and vegetables gives your child a look into small-scale farming and may encourage an appreciation for the process that brings produce to grocery stores.
  4. Encourages healthy eating. Planting a vegetable garden can lead to healthier meal times because children are more likely to try vegetables they have grown and veggies usually taste better when they are fresh from the garden.
  5. Inspires responsibility and a strong work ethic. Maintaining a garden can help children understand what the rewards of hard work are and how taking care of something requires diligence and persistence.

Tips for Your Baby’s First Days

Your baby’s first days can be quite an adjustment, especially since you might not be getting enough sleep. Remember to do the following:

  • Sleep when your baby sleeps;
  • Keep scheduled activities to a minimum. Settling into a schedule with a new baby takes time;
  • Accept help when it is offered. You can’t do everything yourself, and that’s okay;
  • Leave baby with a trusted family member or friend so you can get a few minutes to yourself;
  • Eat properly and drink lots of water. Taking care of yourself will give you the energy you need to take care of your newborn;
  • Let non-essential household chores wait. Give yourself a little leeway and enjoy your baby’s first days;
  • Set limits with visitors. This may mean insisting that visitors wash their hands before holding your baby or asking anyone who is ill not to visit until he or she feels better. Also, let friends and loved ones know the best times to visit and how much or how little time you have for these visits.

Diving into Dad Duties: Five Tips For New Dads

Fatherhood is a profound, wonderful journey full of moments that you will cherish for a lifetime. Here are five tips for dads who are new to the experience.

  1. Master the art of diapering. Diapering is part of Fatherhood 101. Changing a diaper is a simple Get%20Set%20Girl%20and%20Father_jpgway to help keep your baby happy while bonding with your baby.
  2. Work as a team to handle baby duties. You and your spouse are a team, so try to share all the responsibilities. Make sure to help out when your partner is tired or busy.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. When you’re part of a team, communication is key. If you’re going to be late coming home from work, call your partner. If you’re not sure how to handle a baby-related task, ask someone. Opening the lines of communication can work wonders.
  4. Be patient. Fatherhood isn’t an exact science, so remember that becoming the best dad you can be takes time. Enjoy those moments when you’re still figuring things out and remember to laugh.
  5. Take care of yourself. Being a good dad means being there for your child. Make sure you are staying healthy and avoiding unnecessary risks. Exercise, watch your diet and drive carefully.

Five Ways to Fend Off Your Child’s Boredom

Sooner or later, your child may utter the phrase “I’m bored.” Should that time come, here are five ways to help your child learn how to entertain herself.

  1. Make a boredom box. Sit down with your child and brainstorm a list of different things she likes to do. Then, write each idea on a different slip of paper and put them all in a shoebox or jar. If your child gets bored, take out the box and ask her to pick out an activity (without peeking).Puzzle_jpg
  2. Play a game. It doesn’t matter whether you play a card game, a board game or a word game as long as you play it together. It will help to alleviate his boredom and strengthen family bonds.
  3. Ask your child to help you with chores. Some children love to help with housework, such as dusting and cleaning. You can make a game out of seeing who can fold the laundry the fastest or who can sweep up more dust.
  4. Head outside. Take a walk, go on a geocache hunt or play catch if your child is old enough. Just remember to bring water and use sunscreen.
  5. Let your child be bored. Some artists and writers say that boredom inspires creativity. Boredom might inspire your child to try an activity she hasn’t explored before. Who knows? Boredom may bring out your child’s inner Picasso!

Playful Parenting: Fun Activities for Newborns

Like all children, babies learn best by having fun. Here are some simple, play-based activities you can do with your infant to help him or her develop motor and learning skills.

  • Encourage tummy time. Tummy time is good exercise and allows your baby to practiceInfant_jpg
    moving. Lie your baby on her stomach and put one or two colorful toys in front of her or around her;
  • Read. Besides being an excellent bonding activity, reading to your newborn also prepares him for reading on his own and introduces him to shapes, letters and colors;
  • Talk to your baby. Simply chatting to your baby about whatever you’re doing keeps her entertained and helps to establish a foundation for language development;
  • Play with toys. Playing with age-appropriate toys helps your newborn exercise his sense of touch. Babies especially enjoy toys with different textures, such as crinkly fabric, satin and velvet.

Five Ways to Stay Happy and Healthy During Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a profound experience. It gives you nine months to bond with your baby and grow emotionally. Here are five ways to stay healthy and happy during that time.

  1. Exercise. Take a walk or practice simple yoga poses. Being active causes the body to release endorphins, which can boost your mood and energy levels. Be sure to consult your doctor before engaging in any new activities.
  2. Stock up on sleep. To make sleeping on your side more comfortable, try using a body pillow.
  3. Visit the dentist. Keeping your teeth clean and healthy can help prevent harmful bacteria from entering your bloodstream and decrease the risk of premature labor.
  4. Have small, healthy snacks. While you are eating for two, your body only needs about 300 extra calories a day. This varies from person to person, of course, and you should check with your doctor to find out exactly what you need. That being said, healthy snacks such as fruit, yogurt or whole wheat toast can provide the calorie boost you need. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  5. Relax. Whether you enjoy reading, watching TV or meditating, finding healthy ways to relax is important. Sitting and taking deep breaths can help you unwind.

Five Ways to Make Family Meal Preparation Easier

Sitting down to dinner with your family is great. You can recap your days, spend some time together and have some laughs. Between work, school and extracurricular activities, though, finding the time to sit down together can be challenging. Here are five ways to make preparing family meals easier.

  1. Prepare meals beforehand. Make a lot of a particular dish over the weekend and serve it throughout the week. For example, make a double batch of a casserole or a big batch of soup or chili and serve it every other day so you don’t have to worry about cooking on those nights.Family 03_jpg
  2. “Cheat” when you cook. Using frozen or pre-cut veggies and other prepared foods is an excellent way to save time when you cook. Also, a slow cooker lets you cook a full meal with less preparation.
  3. Keep meals simple. Plenty of fast, easy meals are also delicious and nutritious. The internet has a treasure trove of recipes to suit your family, your wallet, your schedule and your taste buds.
  4. Have breakfast for dinner. In a pinch, serve scrambled eggs, toast and fruit. Waffles or pancakes are easy, too. Eating mostly healthy foods is important, but sitting down with your family is important, too.
  5. Make dinner as a family. Having help can cut down on meal preparation time. Children can stir and roll out dough, and they can mix the vegetables you chopped into a salad. Cooking together is also a terrific bonding activity.

Tough Questions Reap Rewards for Preschool and Child

by Michael Petrucelli, on-site owner of The Goddard School located in Darien, IL
As seen in Suburban Life Magazine

Selecting your child’s first school may be one of the most exciting, yet intimidating decisions that you will have to make. Children in quality preschool programs improve their social skills, are better at following directions, waiting turns, problem-solving, participating in activities, collaborating, and relating to other children, teachers and parents. In addition to providing a warm, safe, and nurturing environment, a top quality preschool program should provide a well-rounded experience that helps children become confident, joyful and fully prepared students, while developing a life-long love of learning.

IMG_3304_philly_00535There are a variety of teaching philosophies that you will learn about as you research child-care options. Many may seem difficult to apply to a young child where things like safety and security may be your primary concerns. Terms you may hear include: Reggio Emilia approach, Montessori Method, Activity or Play Based Learning, Waldorf approach, and others. The common theme is that all of these methods should focus on children as individuals, getting them enthused about learning, and having them prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

Some important questions to ask before, during, and after a visit to the school:

  • Is there a warm and nurturing atmosphere in a physical environment that you can envision your child in?
  • Are there safety and security measures in place that are followed, practiced, and actively reviewed?
  • Are there health and safety standards in place, and what is the “wellness” policy?
  • Does it offer a wide range of enriching activities to meet the individual needs of each child including a focus on building each child’s emotional, social, cognitive and physical skills?
  • What size are the classes and what is the student teacher ratio in the different classrooms?
  • Is the school convenient to your work or home? Happy parents help make happy children.
  • Are there age appropriate outdoor play areas that are maintained in a safe condition? Does it offer multi-cultural and developmentally appropriate materials and equipment, and do you feel a sense of respect for diversity and respect for various cultures?
  • Is there a professional faculty committed to early childhood development, and do they have access to on-going training and continuing education credits?
  • Are the teachers CPR and first aid certified?
  • Can I visit my child any time during the day?
  • Does the school have references available?
  • Do you feel a sense of community among the teachers and parents in the building?

Choosing childcare is a very personal decision in which there are no right or wrong answers. Do your best though to ask the right questions.

Five Tips for Teaching Good Citizenship

We all want what is best for our children. We want them to be healthy, well-educated and happy, and we want to encourage them to be upstanding, productive members of society. Here are five tips for teaching good citizenship to your children.Sisters

  1. Set a good example. If you’re heading to the polls on Election Day, take your child along to show him how the process works and how important voting is. If you’re at a park with your child and you spot some trash on the ground, pick it up and put in a garbage can. Set an example by performing random acts of kindness.
  2. Read books with a positive message. Books such as “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss and “The Legend of the Bluebonnet” by Tomie dePaola encourage compassion and generosity toward others. Reading age-appropriate biographies about inspiring figures from history can also provide role models for children.
  3. Help your children sort through their old toys and choose items to donate. Take younger children to a clothing drive or food bank to help sort items. For older children, try to find something that speaks to their interests. For example, if your child likes animals, take him to volunteer at an animal shelter or SPCA.
  4. Discuss current events. Age-appropriate discussions about current events can help to get children interested in and passionate about what is going on in the world.
  5. Use a chore chart. Ask your child to perform simple chores around the house. List the tasks on a chart and draw a star or place a star sticker on the chart next to each completed chore. When a certain number of stars is accumulated (say, ten), reward him with a treat.

Break Up the Bad Weather Blues

Are you stuck inside because of the freezing temperatures or the rain? Take a step back from the TV, tablet or video game, and shake up your normal routine. When the weather prevents your children from playing outside, provide them with challenging activities and active games!

Girls Playing GameHave a Board Game Competition.

Hold a board game competition in your living or family room. Spend the day playing different games. You can even compete for prizes.

Create an Indoor Obstacle Course.

Create a course with 10 to 15 stations of quick physical or educational activities. One station might require your child to jump on one foot 15 times; at another, your child should sing the alphabet song twice. Use a stop watch or oven clock to time each other and see who can complete the obstacle course the in fastest time or who can improve on their previous best times.

Create Your Very Own Time Capsule.

Spend the day with your child creating and filling a time capsule with items, notes, pictures and other things that are important to you and your child. Then, store it away. On a rainy or snowy day in the future, open it up and share your memories!

Don’t let the weather put a damper on your fun and learning. Make the best out of being stuck indoors with a little creativity and items you already have in your home!

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