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Posts Tagged ‘child play’

Prepare for Summer Fun

Prepare for Summer Fun

by Dr. Kyle Pruett

Are you planning a summer vacation with your children?  Young children are natural explorers and typically adore adventures. But they love them even more when they have been prepared for new experiences.  Better-prepared kids are kids who cope better.  Here are some suggestions to prepare your children – to get the most educationally and emotionally out of your adventures.

  • Talk about where you are going and why.
  • Discuss how long you will be there and a few things they can expect.
  • Ask them what they think they will see or want to do.
  • Suggest some “I Spy” targets to look for at your destination. This makes them better travelers and learners.
  • Wrap-up the experience on the way home by discussing the surprises and the discoveries.

When you do this right, it feels like a shared family adventure in which everyone’s experience matters and contributes to its success. It also helps parents feel less like travel agents or teachers, and more like moms and dads who know what their children need. Enjoy first – learn second – remember always.

Choosing a Summer Program

Choosing a Summer Program

According to research conducted by the National Center for Summer Learning, which is based at the Johns Hopkins School of Education in Baltimore, Maryland, summer learning loss accounts for about two-thirds of the difference in the likelihood of a student pursuing a college preparatory path in high school. As these findings indicate, keeping children’s brains challenged throughout the summer is crucial, since the lack of learning that occurs during these months has both short-term and long-term consequences.

Keeping a child’s day consistent throughout the summer months keeps the brain focused and helps prevent learning losses during the summer. In addition, this can potentially ease the anxiety that often accompanies transitioning into a new classroom or school come fall.

Research has shown that programs like The Goddard School that have specific learning goals, use learning and developmental standards and are age-appropriate are ideal in preventing summer learning losses. 

 

Tips for Choosing a Summer Program:

  • Choose a program that is based on each child’s interests and natural curiosity – this allows children the opportunity to direct their own learning.
  • Ask for credentials, experience and training of the teachers/counselors.
  • Check the health and safety practices of the program.  Make sure you are comfortable that the program will be able to handle your child’s unique needs.
  • Inquire about the daily schedule of the program.  Does the program combine songs, stories, exploration, art, physical activities and learning adventures in a safe, nurturing environment?  Ask how much freedom a child has to choose activities.
  • Ask for references.

TIPS FOR A SAFE AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Halloween is a happy, fun-filled holiday for families and provides inspiration for children to express creativity and manners!  Parents balance this enthusiastic learning opportunity, however, by providing safe and dependable environments – both at home and “on the trick-or-treat road.”

 

Pumpkin Decorating

Encourage your children to participate in pumpkin decorating activities.

  • A child-friendly and safe alternative to pumpkin carving is to provide children with markers or paint to decorate their pumpkins.
  • Use child-drawn outlines to carve the family pumpkins.  This is a ‘parent-only’ activity and should be conducted on a flat, stable surface.
  • Children can help remove the pumpkin insides using their hands or scoops. Clean up the messes as you go – slimy pumpkin insides can cause slipping hazards.
  • Use small, battery-operated lights designed for carved pumpkins in lieu of candles.  
  • Families who choose to illuminate their pumpkins with candles should use votives or tea-light candles. 
  • Candlelit pumpkins should never be left unattended and should be placed on sturdy surfaces, away from flammable objects.

 

Costumes

Children should let their imaginations go – this is the ultimate creative activity!  Resist ‘buying’ a boxed costume for your children (and don’t be afraid that you’ll have to roll out grandma’s sewing machine). In order to make costumes safe, consider the following:

  • Costumes, masks, beards, wigs and other accessories should be flame resistant.
    • Masks may obstruct vision and could restrict breathing. Consider applying face paint or cosmetics instead.
    • Ensure masks fit securely and have eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
    • Avoid hats that could slide over children’s eyes.
    • Knives, swords or similar costume accessories should not be sharp or rigid; rather they should be made of soft, flexible materials.
  • Avoid loose, baggy or long costumes to prevent tripping.
  • Children should wear sturdy, fitted footwear – oversized shoes and mother’s high heels are not ideal for safe walking.
  • Trim costumes and trick-or-treat bags with reflective tape to make them visible to motorists.

 

Treats!

Before the ‘treats,’ plan an easy and filling dinner.  Pasta with veggies or macaroni and cheese with a salad will fill tummies before the evening takes off. 

 

You’ll remember this one, “Do not eat any candy until you bring it home and we have thoroughly inspected it.”  Times haven’t changed much – same credo for your children! 

  • All treats should be carefully examined by adults for evidence of tampering. Any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items should be discarded.

 

Interested in making the evening more memorable and less scrutinized for the children in your neighborhood?  Be a role model:

  • Avoid distributing treats considered choking hazards (e.g., gum, peanuts, hard candies and small toys).
  • Non-food giveaways such as coloring books, notepads, stickers, crayons and toothbrushes are all good ‘candy’ alternatives.

 

Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-Treating is a two-way street.  Neighbors are responsible for each others’ children and parents are responsible for their own children.

 

Your Children’s Safety:

  • Young children should always be accompanied by parents or other responsible adults.
  • All children and escorts should carry flashlights with fresh batteries.
  • Only homes with outside lights ‘on’ should be visited.
  • If you allow older children to go trick-or-treating with a group of friends, discuss safety precautions and agree upon a specific time when they should return home.
  • Remind children to stay on sidewalks and not to cross through yards or between parked cars, to only approach well-lit homes and to never enter a home or car for a treat.

 

Your Neighborhood’s Safety:

  • Prepare your home to receive trick-or-treaters.  Clear your lawn, sidewalk, steps and porch of obstacles or potential tripping hazards.
  • Sweep wet leaves away from stairs and walkways to prevent slipping.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be kept away from areas where costumes could brush against flames.
  • Pets should be restrained to keep children from being jumped upon or bitten.

 

After-Party

Host a post-‘treating’ event at your home.  Invite neighbors (parents and children) and serve hot chocolate and dessert.  This is a wonderful opportunity to socialize and build memories!

 

Additional Resources: The American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org), National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov).

Child’s Play in a Grown-up World

Child’s Play in a Grown-up World

by Kyle D. Pruett, M.D.

 

Find ways to involve your children in the richness of your ‘grown-up’ life.  Be creative and patient because the results are worth your effort!

 

For young children, play is a lot more than entertainment. It is central to their development.  A wonderful way to play with and teach children is to bring them into your world, where ‘real-life’ happens.  Children love to do ‘grown-up’ things and to imitate you.  And when they contribute, they see themselves as players and get a well-earned self-esteem boost!

 

Children also learn about important values and concepts from watching you.  They see the result of practice and perseverance, and they come to know that learning is a lifelong process. They see that everyone, even a grown-up, can make mistakes and can learn from them.

 

There are two easy and enjoyable ways for your children to play in the grown-up world: you can let them help with your chores and you can include them in your favorite pastimes.

 

Work as play:  Include your children in your household routine.  There are countless safe ways for children to help with meals, laundry, shopping or cleaning.  They can help mix recipe ingredients, pick fruit at the grocery store, water the garden or pack their lunch.  These activities are fun learning experiences, especially if you are teaching informally along the way.  The chores may take a little longer as they learn the ropes, make mistakes, and work at a snail’s pace, but the value for their learning and their self-regard are more than worth the extra time.

 

Hobbies and pastimes:  Share your interests with your children.  This is one of the most intriguing, emotionally rich forms of learning that children can receive.  Teach your children about your avocations, and keep up with your piano, chess, painting, hiking or gardening.   Your enthusiasm for your hobbies will be infectious and offer many ways for your children to learn and develop skills.

 

Kyle D. Pruett, M.D., is an advisor for The Goddard School®.  Dr. Pruett is an authority on child development who has been practicing child and family psychiatry for over twenty-five years.  He is a clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale University’s Child Study Center.