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How to Support Children’s Approaches to Learning? Play with Them!

We do it here at The Goddard School every day -teaching and learning through play! Children learn by experiencing and exploring the world around them. Here at The Goddard School it is our goal to provide a safe and fun environment in which they can do that. Below is a NAEYC article explaining more about how you can also be doing this at home. You all play with your children -this article will help make you even more aware of how that play can support their learning.

 

 

As a parent, you want your children to learn all that they can—to grasp math concepts, to be curious about exploring the world, and to learn to read and write. Did you know that you can help your son or daughter academically by playing with them? Play and learning go together!

What kind of play helps children learn the best? Play that really engages children—play that they will focus on and stay with even when problems arise. This kind of play helps children develop their approaches to learning—in other words, the ways they respond to learning situations. Curiosity about the world, initiative and problem solving, and focused attention and persistence are just a few approaches to learning that children develop through play.

In the early years, parents can help children develop the skills to be better students by playing with them. Yes, as they enter kindergarten and the elementary years, children need to have some understanding of letters and numbers. However, if they have not developed solid approaches to learning, they will not be as successful in school settings.

Encouraging Toddlers at Play

Joey is 20 months old. He has a basket full of toys, including rattles, soft plastic blocks, a set of stacking rings, stuffed animals, and cloth and plastic books. Joey’s dad often sits down on the floor with Joey and invites him to play with items in the basket. Joey’s favorite activity is to dump out all of the toys and put the basket on his head! This is typical toddler play behavior. Joey is curious about the world and is looking at it another way—through the slats in the basket!

Joey loves to shake the rattles to hear the different sounds or to stack two or three blocks and knock them down. His attention to each might be up to five minutes or so, which is just right for his age. He may solve problems as he tries to place the rings on the stacking post or to add more blocks to a tower.

Joey’s dad encourages his curiosity. He comments about what he is doing: “I see you are trying to get that last ring on the post, but it just won’t fit.” Or he asks him questions: “Where did that ball go? Do you see it hiding behind the chair?” He connects his play to learning by responding positively to his interest: “I can tell you like to look through the basket, you silly boy. Does everything look different from under there?” He also encourages him by asking him to keep trying even when he gets frustrated. “Oh, those blocks keep falling down, don’t they? Can you try to put just one on top of another gently? Let’s see what happens. I’ll help you.” This encouragement fosters his perseverance, his attention, and his initiative at problem solving, all positive approaches to learning.

Encouraging Preschoolers at Play

Alicia is 4 years old. She loves to dress up in her mommy’s clothes, jewelry, and shoes and then pretend to go shopping, care for her baby dolls, and cook dinner. Through her pretend play Alicia learns to think abstractly. When she holds a block in her hand and uses it to pretend to talk on the phone, she is using the block as a symbol for something else. That’s abstract thinking in action! And, since letters and numbers are abstract because they are symbols of what they represent, pretend play is one way a child develops her understanding of letters and numbers.

Alicia’s mom and dad have recognized that supporting her pretend activities keeps her engaged for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. They pretend right along with her, asking her to “bake some cookies” or to “go grocery shopping” for them. They give her paper and crayons so that she can pretend to write grocery lists. They encourage her to count how many items she has placed in her toy shopping cart. They accept her scribbles and letter-like shapes as her writing (just right for 4-year-olds) and help her when the numbers get a little mixed up.

Alicia will work with puzzles for long periods of time, too, especially if her dad joins her. Together, they figure out strategies for putting the pieces together. She may turn the pieces around, trying out different ways until she is successful. She is developing problem solving and persistence as she does so.

 

Your Role as Your Child Plays

Playing with your child helps keep your child engaged in the kind of play where learning occurs. Your interest, questions, and comments as you play alongside will help your child use toys productively. And the two of you will have lots of fun together! Most importantly, you will be working toward your child’s future success as a student by building important approaches to learning. Play and learning go together!

 

 

Article by Gaye Gronlund and taken from NAEYC..

Gaye Gronlund, M.A., is an Early Childhood Education Consultant. She works with teachers, families, and programs across the country and writes books and articles about play, standards, assessment, and curriculum.

 

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

Staying Safe and Warm in the Winter

Winter is fun! Kids love playing in the cold and snow and they should be encouraged to do so. There are some wonderful learning opportunities outside in the Winter! However, there are also some important things to remember while out in the cold. This article found on healthychildren.org gives some wonderful tips on staying warm and safe during all that outside Winter fun!

Whether winter brings severe storms, light dustings or just cold temperatures, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some valuable tips on how to keep your children safe and warm.

What to Wear

  • Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities.  Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Always remember warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
  • The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
  • When riding in the car, babies and children should wear thin, snug layers rather than thick, bulky coats or snowsuits. See Winter Car Seat Safety Tips for additional information.
  • Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins and other loose bedding should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment because they are associated with suffocation deaths. It is better to use sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers or wearable blankets.
  •  If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be thin and tucked under the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby’s chest, so the infant’s face is less likely to become covered by bedding materials.

Hypothermia

  • Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder temperatures. It often happens when a child is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults.
  • As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy.  Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases.
  • If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.

Frostbite

  • Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen.  This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose.  They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb.
  • If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water.  104° Fahrenheit (about the temperature of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.
  • Do not rub the frozen areas.
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink.
  • If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.

Safe Winter Sports and Activities

Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.  Have children come inside periodically to warm up.

Ice Skating

  • Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces.  Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved.
  • Advise your child to:
    • Skate in the same direction as the crowd
    • Avoid darting across the ice
    • Never skate alone
    • Do Not chew gum or eat candy while skating
    • Consider having your child wear a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads, especially while learning to skate to keep them safe.

Sledding

  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
  • Children should be supervised while sledding.
  • Keep young children separated from older children.
  • Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet while sledding.
  • Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes.
  • Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.
  • Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees or fences, be covered in snow (not ice), not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
  • Avoid sledding in crowded areas.

Snow Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.
  • Never ski or snowboard alone.
  • Young children should always be supervised by an adult.  Older children’s need for adult supervision depends on their maturity and skill.  If older children are not with an adult, they should always at least be accompanied by a friend.
  • All skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets. Ski facilities should require helmet use, but if they do not, parents should enforce the requirement for their children.
  • Equipment should fit the child. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards. Eye protection or goggles should also be used.
  • Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder. Avoid crowded slopes.
  • Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.

Snowmobiling

  • The AAP recommends that children under age 16 not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.
  • Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
  • Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles.
  • Travel at safe speeds.
  • Never snowmobile alone or at night.
  • Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.

The Importance of Nourishing Parents with a Strong Social Network

Community-Building Among Families

I’ve seen parents benefit from the exchange of advice on the sidelines at a soccer game, and by volunteering together for a parent-teacher association. But not every parent can participate. How can we help restore and strengthen social networks that nourish parents? Networking reduces not only parents’ anxieties but also overuse of the medical system.

Being a parent can be a lonely job. More than half of all children in the U.S. spend part of their childhood raised by single parents. Single or not, working parents are often so busy juggling jobs and family that it’s hard for them to connect with relatives, friends and other parents. Yet when parents compare notes, they are often relieved to discover that they are not alone, that they share mutual concerns about bedtime battles, homework overload, fears about how their children will fare in a world of vanishing resources, to name a few. They realize they aren’t the only ones who sometimes feel like they don’t know how to help their child – that they’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. Exchanges with other parents provide more solutions and more resources, along with confidence and hope.

When parents speak their fears out loud and know that they have been understood by others who care, they are likelier to find a fresh perspective. Parents often feel that they must be perfect, that they should instinctively know what to do with their children. Of course that’s not realistic. Parenting is a process of trial and error where mistakes themselves can be teachers. But parents will only learn from their mistakes if they can face them, and that takes an underlying sense of security. It helps to have a safety net of reassuring relationships with other parents who share their challenges and cheer them on. The sidelines of their children’s soccer games are a fine setting for that back-and-forth. Perhaps every generation has to learn that it takes a village to raise a child.

When communities strengthen themselves, children get supported not only by their own parents but also by all the other parents and adults in their universe. Pediatricians, teachers and other professionals can help develop opportunities for parents to connect – formal ones such as parent-teacher associations and parent groups, and informal ones, too. I used to schedule pediatric appointments during the same block of time for children of the same age so their parents could compare notes in the waiting room. Public libraries and children’s museums also have become interested in helping parents get to know each other. But the job of strengthening communities cannot be accomplished by child- oriented professionals and institutions alone. Internet social-networking sites can be -helpful tools to share community information. Communities become places where children and families thrive when a critical mass of people and institutions share their commitment to everyone’s well-being.

This article was taken from NAEYC.

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

Learning while Cooking with Your Child

Cooking with children provides many learning opportunities! You can practice math by counting items, sorting different food items, comparing size and measuring. You can practice science as you discuss how items grow, how heat affects food and the different textures of foods. You can develop fine motor skills while peeling foods and picking up pieces of food to add to a recipe. There are also many opportunities for literacy growth as you cook with your child! The NAEYC article below discusses different ideas on how to do that. The most important thing to remember when cooking with your child is: HAVE FUN!!

 

Read and Eat

By: Mary Reid

For years I kept a stone in a drawer in my kitchen. Why, you ask?  Because my kids and I needed it to make stone soup! The classic story, Stone Soup, tells about a weary traveler who arrives in a village hungry and without food. None of the villagers wish to share food with him until he says he can make soup from a stone. The villagers offer first an onion, and finally some juicy beef bones.

Every time we made soup, we’d turn it into stone soup and together would chant the refrain, “Fancy that, soup from a stone,” and “It tastes good now but it would taste better if we had some juicy beef bones.”

Our children loved making stone soup for years, always using the same smooth white stone. As a family, we had fun chanting, “Soup from a stone. Fancy that?” but the lesson was deeper. We talked about the gist of being generous – a family value we wanted to pass down to our children.

Cooking offers a wonderful way to bring what we learn from books into our daily life.  While cooking we build relationships, engage the senses and develop literacy skills.

Many classic children’s stories lend themselves to cooking with children. Here are some examples:

Goldilocks and the Three Bears:  The story of the Three Bears is a predictable story and one easily sequenced by young children due to the repetition (Papa Bear’s big items, Mama Bear’s middle sized things and Baby Bear’s tiny things). Sequencing is a skill that is needed in daily life, as well as in reading and math comprehension.  And of course this story begs for a porridge meal (oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc.) Children will, of course, want theirs “Just right,” just like Goldilocks.

Green Eggs and Ham, by: Dr. Seuss: Add a little green food coloring into scrambled eggs for your child after reading the book together. If your picky eater doesn’t like the look of green eggs, ask him “Would you eat them in the boat? Would you eat them with a goat?” He may reply, “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I Am.” Who can deny Dr. Seuss as the king of rhyme? Learning to rhyme is a skill needed before children learn to read. Many adults remember the rhymes from Dr. Seuss books and making time to rhyme with children is a fun way to learn this skill.

Pancakes, Pancakes, by: Eric Carle: This book illustrates the old fashion way to make pancakes beginning with graining the flour. Follow the author’s lead and take the time to make pancakes from scratch with your child. (You don’t need a mix – pancakes require just a few ingredients.) Foster writing and math skills by creating a pictorial version of your own pancake recipe with your child, making simple drawings to depict the ingredients. For example, you can say: “We used two eggs, Can you make a drawing that shows how many eggs we need for this recipe?”

You and your children will build relationships, engage your senses and develop literacy skills by reading and cooking together.

Read and eat, that’s my philosophy.

 

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

 

 

Tuning Out to Tune In: How Time Outside Can Improve Readiness to Learn Inside

Below is an article from NAEYC that discusses the positive affect the outdoors can have on learning. . It is written by Andrea Laser.

 

Outdoor time matters. I’ve certainly lost track of time and my thoughts and worries seemed to disappear – all because I was outdoors in a peaceful setting. As teachers we send wound up children outside to “burn off some energy.” And many of us plan our vacations based on the outdoor scenery. Our need to be restored by the outdoors and nature’s almost magical effects may actually have its roots in brain research. As it turns out, the time we spend outside can do amazing work getting our brain ready for the time we spend inside. Several years ago, the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv was published that described much of the research about the powerful effects of being outside for children. His book has many studies that describe the power of benefits of being outside and in nature for children.

The Power of Outside

Nature has beautiful and unexpected ways of capturing our attention–the wind suddenly blowing across our face, our feet slowly sinking into the sand at the beach, or seeing an animal run in full stride in its natural habitat.

Researchers call this type of attention “involuntary attention” and believe that time spent in involuntary attention may actually be giving our voluntary attention an important time of rest (Kaplan, 1995, and Taylor, Kuo, & Sullivan, 2001). Voluntary attention includes such activities as focusing on a math problem, or writing letters- basically tasks that make a person focus on what he is doing. Involuntary attention is when we don’t mean to pay attention to something, but our brain shifts our focus anyway (an animal making noise, the sound of thunder, the smell of lilacs, etc.)This research isn’t new, but as academic expectations are pushed down into earlier grades, sometimes what is considered the “non-essential” and non-academic parts of a child’s day, including recess, are tragically cut or eliminated. The reality is, outside matters, and children need time outside to be ready to learn inside.

How can you encourage this power of the outdoors for your children?

• Recess matters

Advocate for your child’s school to keep recess. If your school has cut or limited recess, ask to talk to the principal or director about why and how this decision was made. One guideline from SHAPE America (Society of Health and Physical Educators) is that children ages 3-5 years old should be engaged in 60 minutes of structured physical activity and 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity per day.

• Windows matter

Some research suggests that simply looking out a window can have some of the same revitalizing effects as being outdoors. When looking at schools and child care centers, notice how many windows there are and if children are to see out them (they aren’t covered, and they are low enough for children to see out).

• How you get to school matters

If you live close enough, try walking or biking to school with your child. Not only will this give your child’s brain time to revitalize, it also provides great opportunities for conversation and starting the day off right for both of you.

• Take time to revitalize your brain too! 

Don’t forget that revitalizing your brain is important too! Take time for yourself to be in nature. Throughout your day spend a few minutes outside and see how you can benefit from the effects of time outside.

• If you can’t get outside as much as you’d like, try bringing some of the outdoors in

Both weather conditions and location can be a deterrent to safe outdoor play for children. If you cannot get outside, try to bring the outdoors inside- collect some natural materials for children to sort, count, pattern with, draw, and observe. In addition, consider having plants, fairy gardens, and observational areas where children can observe and have opportunities to document what they notice.


Andrea Laser is an Early Childhood Special Educator teaching in Colorado for her 14th year in public schools. She has her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, recently completed the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program, and is currently pursuing an educational doctorate in Leadership for Educational Equity with a concentration in early childhood. She has two boys, ages three and seven who simultaneously energize and exhaust her and her husband. She can be contacted at abp818@gmail.com

 

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

Seasonal Allergies in Children

Do you wonder if your child might have allergies? Below is an article from HealthyChildren.org that might help.

 

Every fall, 5-year-old Timmy develops a runny nose, itchy, puffy eyes, and attacks of sneezing. His mother shares the problem, which she dismisses as mild hay fever, and something her son has to learn to live with. Lately, however, Timmy has also suffered attacks of wheezing and shortness of breath when he visits his grandmother and plays with her cats. Timmy’s pediatrician suspects allergic asthma, and wants him to undergo some tests.

Timmy’s symptoms are by no means rare among children across the United States. Allergies and asthma often start in childhood and continue throughout life. Although neither can be cured, with proper care they can usually be kept under control. Allergies are caused by the body’s reaction to substances called “allergens,” which trigger the immune system to react to harmless substances as though they were attacking the body.

When to Suspect an Allergy

Some allergies are easy to identify by the pattern of symptoms that follows exposure to a particular substance. But others are subtler, and may masquerade as other conditions. Here are some common clues that could lead you to suspect your child may have an allergy.

Repeated or chronic cold-like symptoms that last more than a week or two, or that develop at about the same time every year. These could include:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Sneezing
  • Throat clearing
  • Nose rubbing
  • Sniffling
  • Snorting
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, runny eyes

Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth and throat. Itchiness is not usually a complaint with a cold, but it is the hallmark of an allergy problem. Coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory symptoms. Recurrent red, itchy, dry, sometime scaly rashes in the creases of the skin, wrists, and ankles also may indicate an allergy.

Eczema

When it comes to rashes, the most common chronic inflammatory skin condition in children is eczema, also called atopic dermatitis. Although not strictly an allergic disorder, eczema in young children has many of the hallmarks of allergies and is often a sign that hay fever and asthma may develop. The rate of eczema, like that of asthma, is increasing throughout the world. Where asthma is rare, the rate of eczema is also low.

When to Suspect Asthma

Although allergies and asthma often go together, they are actually two different conditions.

  • Asthma is a chronic condition that starts in the lungs.
  • Allergies are reactions that start in the immune system.

Not everybody with allergies has asthma, but most people with asthma have allergies.

Asthma Attacks

The airways of the typical child with asthma are infl amed or swollen, which makes them oversensitive. When they come in contact with an asthma “trigger” — something that causes an asthma attack — the airways, called bronchial tubes, overreact by constricting (getting narrower).

Many different substances and events can “trigger” an asthma attack:

  • Exercise
  • Cold air
  • Viruses
  • Air pollution
  • Certain fumes
  • Other allergens

In fact, about 80 percent of children with asthma also have allergies and, for them, allergens are often the most common asthma triggers.

Common Allergens in Home and School

In the fall, many indoor allergens cause problems for children because they are inside of home and school for longer periods.

  • Dust: contains dust mites and finely ground particles from other allergens, such as pollen, mold, and animal dander
  • Fungi: including molds too small to be seen with the naked eye
  • Furry animals: cats, dogs, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, and other pets
  • Clothing and toys: made, trimmed, or stuffed with animal hair
  • Latex: household and school articles, such as rubber gloves, toys, balloons; elastic in socks, underwear, and other clothing; airborne particles
  • Bacterial enzymes: used to manufacture enzyme bleaches and cleaning products
  • Certain foods

Controlling Allergy Symptoms

  • It’s helpful to use air conditioners, where possible, to reduce exposure to pollen in both your home and your car.
  • Molds are present in the spring and late summer, particularly around areas of decaying vegetation. Children with mold allergies should avoid playing in piles of dead leaves in the fall.
  • Dust mites congregate in places where food for them (e.g , flakes of human skin) is plentiful. That means they are most commonly found in upholstered furniture, bedding, and rugs.
  • Padded furnishings, such as mattresses, box springs, pillows, and cushions should be encased in allergen-proof, zip-up covers, which are available through catalogs and specialized retailers.
  • Wash linens weekly, and other bedding such as blankets, every 2 to 3 weeks in hot water to kill the dust mite.
  • Pillows should be replaced every 2 to 3 years.

Working With Your Child’s Pediatrician

Your child’s allergy and/or asthma treatment should start with your pediatrician. If needed, your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric allergy specialist for additional evaluations and treatments, depending on how severe the child’s symptoms are. Although there are many over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays, it is very important that you work with a pediatrician over the years to make sure that your child’s allergy and asthma are correctly diagnosed and the symptoms properly treated.

Source
Healthy Children Magazine, Allergy/Asthma 2007

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Prepping Your Child for a New Sibling

A new baby is exciting for EVERYONE!! Older siblings feel excitement too, however their excitement can show it self in different ways. They can also have other emotions that are more difficult for them to express. Try these tips for preparing your child for a new sibling before and after the baby is born.

There’s a wealth of information available for parents about bringing home a new baby, but what about when the new baby isn’t your first? Although the arrival of a new sibling brings joy and excitement, it can also jeopardize sibling’s sense of security, leaving them angry and resentful of the family’s newest addition. Consequently, in addition to getting your home ready for a new baby, it’s important that you also focus on preparing the rest of the family.

Before the Baby Is Born

It’s important to involve your child and keep routines as normal as possible in the weeks before and after your baby’s arrival. Try these tips:

  • Postpone your new-baby discussion until you’re showing, and when you do have it, use a calendar to mark the days, or talk about how the baby will arrive in a particular season (when it’s hot outside), or after an event (when school gets out for the summer).
  • Involve siblings as much as they want (let their questions be the guide).
  • Be concrete about what the new baby’s arrival will be like: “Mommy will be very tired,” “The baby will cry and sleep a lot.”
  • Invite older siblings to share pictures, stories, and video of their newborn days. Kids love to hear stories about what life was like when they were a baby.
  • Avoid big transitions like changing caregivers, moving to a big-girl/boy bed, potty training, getting rid of the pacifier or binky, starting preschool, etc. If siblings must undergo these changes because of the new baby, start them as early as possible (at least several weeks before), so a negative connection doesn’t develop between the changes and the baby’s arrival.
  • Prepare siblings for your absence during the birth of the new baby (how long you will be gone, where your child will stay). How you act lets your child know how to feel. If you seem sad or anxious, they will feel sad or anxious.
  • Use role-playing with dolls to talk about feelings, adjustment, and what life will be like with a new sibling (best for toddler siblings).

After the Baby Is Born

Allow siblings to visit you and meet the new baby soon after he/she is born (in the hospital). This will help to reinforce that it’s a special, family event. Of course, if you feel like your child will be scared of the hospital setting (e.g., seeing you in a robe or with an IV), let the big introduction wait until you get home. A few more helpful hints:

  • Have big-brother/sister gifts waiting, from the new baby, when they first meet him/her.
  • Don’t make comparisons (“he’s much calmer than you were,” or “you cried a lot more.”)
  • Don’t be alarmed if siblings don’t express an interest in the new baby. Sibling relationships have a lifetime to develop.
  • Accept that some regression may occur; this is normal. Baby your big-boy/girl for a while, if that’s what he/she seems to need.
  • Remind visitors to pay attention to your older kids and monitor gift-giving. It can be upsetting for sibling to see all of the presents that the newborn receives, especially when people don’t bring something for them.
  • Try not to blame the baby for your new limitations (“Mommy can’t play with you now because I have to feed the baby,” or “Mommy needs to change the baby, so you need to read to yourself.”). Blaming new babies for decreased time spent with you breeds sibling resentment. Instead, involve siblings in child care as helpers.
  • Create opportunities for older siblings to be participants and not competitors (e.g., getting a diaper ready, reading the baby a story, pushing the carriage).
  • Remind siblings of the things they can do because they are older (e.g., eating food, playing with toys, going to the playground).
  • Remember to give siblings private time with you and reinforce the idea that many of the things they are able to help out with (e.g., errand running, meal preparation, etc.), are because of their advanced abilities.

What If Problems Arise?

Research shows that a child’s developmental stage affects their adjustment to new siblings. Children 2 years of age and under have more difficulty because they still have strong needs for parents’ time and closeness. Stress on the family also makes children’s adjustment harder.

Remember, even the most well-meaning siblings can play too rough or hug too hard in the beginning, so show them how to play gently with their new sibling. Focus on the positive behaviors your child shows to her new sibling (“I like the way you stroked the baby’s leg.”). Most importantly, don’t despair. The first few months are a big adjustment for everyone.

By Bronwyn Charlton, PhD

How Can You Help Your Child Learn? PLAY with Them!

Our philosophy at The Goddard School is children learn best through play! Below is an article addressing the importance of play for a child to learn and how you as a parent can help your child learn simply by playing with them.

 

As a parent, you want your children to learn all that they can—to grasp math concepts, to be curious about exploring the world, and to learn to read and write. Did you know that you can help your son or daughter academically by playing with them? Play and learning go together!

What kind of play helps children learn the best? Play that really engages children—play that they will focus on and stay with even when problems arise. This kind of play helps children develop their approaches to learning—in other words, the ways they respond to learning situations. Curiosity about the world, initiative and problem solving, and focused attention and persistence are just a few approaches to learning that children develop through play.

In the early years, parents can help children develop the skills to be better students by playing with them. Yes, as they enter kindergarten and the elementary years, children need to have some understanding of letters and numbers. However, if they have not developed solid approaches to learning, they will not be as successful in school settings.

Encouraging Toddlers at Play

Joey is 20 months old. He has a basket full of toys, including rattles, soft plastic blocks, a set of stacking rings, stuffed animals, and cloth and plastic books. Joey’s dad often sits down on the floor with Joey and invites him to play with items in the basket. Joey’s favorite activity is to dump out all of the toys and put the basket on his head! This is typical toddler play behavior. Joey is curious about the world and is looking at it another way—through the slats in the basket!

Joey loves to shake the rattles to hear the different sounds or to stack two or three blocks and knock them down. His attention to each might be up to five minutes or so, which is just right for his age. He may solve problems as he tries to place the rings on the stacking post or to add more blocks to a tower.

Joey’s dad encourages his curiosity. He comments about what he is doing: “I see you are trying to get that last ring on the post, but it just won’t fit.” Or he asks him questions: “Where did that ball go? Do you see it hiding behind the chair?” He connects his play to learning by responding positively to his interest: “I can tell you like to look through the basket, you silly boy. Does everything look different from under there?” He also encourages him by asking him to keep trying even when he gets frustrated. “Oh, those blocks keep falling down, don’t they? Can you try to put just one on top of another gently? Let’s see what happens. I’ll help you.” This encouragement fosters his perseverance, his attention, and his initiative at problem solving, all positive approaches to learning.

Encouraging Preschoolers at Play

Alicia is 4 years old. She loves to dress up in her mommy’s clothes, jewelry, and shoes and then pretend to go shopping, care for her baby dolls, and cook dinner. Through her pretend play Alicia learns to think abstractly. When she holds a block in her hand and uses it to pretend to talk on the phone, she is using the block as a symbol for something else. That’s abstract thinking in action! And, since letters and numbers are abstract because they are symbols of what they represent, pretend play is one way a child develops her understanding of letters and numbers.

Alicia’s mom and dad have recognized that supporting her pretend activities keeps her engaged for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. They pretend right along with her, asking her to “bake some cookies” or to “go grocery shopping” for them. They give her paper and crayons so that she can pretend to write grocery lists. They encourage her to count how many items she has placed in her toy shopping cart. They accept her scribbles and letter-like shapes as her writing (just right for 4-year-olds) and help her when the numbers get a little mixed up.

Alicia will work with puzzles for long periods of time, too, especially if her dad joins her. Together, they figure out strategies for putting the pieces together. She may turn the pieces around, trying out different ways until she is successful. She is developing problem solving and persistence as she does so.

Your Role as Your Child Plays

Playing with your child helps keep your child engaged in the kind of play where learning occurs. Your interest, questions, and comments as you play alongside will help your child use toys productively. And the two of you will have lots of fun together! Most importantly, you will be working toward your child’s future success as a student by building important approaches to learning. Play and learning go together!


This article was taken from NAEYC and was written by Gaye Gronlund. Gaye Gronlund, M.A., is an Early Childhood Education Consultant. She works with teachers, families, and programs across the country and writes books and articles about play, standards, assessment, and curriculum.
© 2013 National Association for the Education of Young Children — Promoting excellence in early childhood education

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Keeping Sibling Peace

I need a strategy for curbing sibling rivalry. How can I keep the school-age boy from playing too rough with his baby/toddler brother? The refrain of “Stop X. Don’t Y. Keep your hands to yourself, etc.” doesn’t work and makes the older sibling feel like he’s always scolded while the baby “never gets in trouble.”

How old should the little one be before I can let them duke it out themselves without my intervening so much?


Parents can’t quell sibling rivalry, but they can avoid making it worse. The firstborn child has parents to himself until the second comes along. Then he must give you up every time his sibling needs you. He must look on as you admire his baby brother, and he wonders when it will ever be his turn again or if you still admire him at all. As soon as the younger brother is old enough to scoot and crawl, the older one will have to fend him off when he comes to snatch one of his toys or knock down the block tower he has worked hard to balance. Moreover, the older one must please you when you beseech him to be a “good big brother,” which often means giving up his special place in the family as firstborn.

From birth, the second child has never known another position. He is grateful for whatever parental attention he gets, and as the baby of the family, he’ll get plenty. But soon he starts wishing he could do all the things his brother can. He falls apart whenever he fails to imitate him. Parents rush to scoop him up and coddle him – to his older brother’s disgust. Over time, if parents stay out of their struggles, the older child will learn to take pleasure in the younger one’s admiration, and enjoy his role in helping him learn.

To avoid reinforcing sibling rivalry, the first step is to accept that it is not a parent’s job to keep siblings from fighting. If you try, you’re likely to intensify the conflict by putting yourself in mid-battle. Every time you tell the older one, “No,” “Don’t,” “Stop,” he is likely to feel even more resentful of his younger brother. He knows you are mad at him. It’s easy to see how in his mind your temporary loss of affection for him is the little one’s fault – all the more reason to torture him again.

An infant must not be left with an older sibling unsupervised. But I’ve never seen one sibling seriously injure another when parents leave it to the children to sort out their differences on their own. When the youngest can fend for himself, make it clear you expect them both to straighten things out themselves.

Don’t bother trying to figure out “who started it.” Most of the time, you’ll never know, and engaging in this inquiry just heightens their competition to be your favorite. Instead, let them know that you don’t care who’s to blame. Tell them that you hold them both responsible for stopping their squabbling. And if you can manage it, give each of them regular separate times just to play with you.

Article taken from NAEYC.  (For more information: “Understanding Sibling Rivalry: The Brazelton Way,” by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., and Joshua Sparrow, M.D. Da Capo Press.)

 

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When to Introduce Your Child to a Smartphone or Tablet

From the time they can grasp an object in their hands, children reach for electronic gadgets of all kinds, particularly our cell phones and computers. When you start noticing more child-size fingerprints on your iPad than your own, it may be time to consider introducing your child to a handheld wireless device.

A smartphone is a high-tech cell phone that runs its own operating system, allowing the user to talk, email, surf and take high-resolution photos and videos. A tablet computer does everything your laptop does but in a small, portable flat form with a touch screen. Here are some helpful tips on when and how to introduce your child to one or both of these technologies.

Wait Until Preschool

Just because toddlers like to push buttons and watch videos does not mean they are ready for a computer. Experts recommend waiting until your child is at least preschool age.  “Children under two years of age learn best from real-world experiences and interactions, and each minute spent in front of a screen-based device is a minute when your child is not exploring the world and using their senses, which is extremely important in their development process,” says Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, a learning designer for Leapfrog Enterprises. “However, by age three, many children are active media users and can benefit from electronic media with educational content. This content often uses strategies such as repeating an idea, presenting images and sounds that capture attention, and using child rather than adult voices for the characters.”

Your child may be ready sooner or later, depending on the level of supervision required. “In a supervised environment, children as young as four or five are able to engage in learning activities using smartphones and tablets of all kinds,” says Jeannie Galindo, supervisor of instructional technology for the Manatee County School District in Florida. “In an unsupervised environment, I wouldn’t recommend a smartphone or tablet purchase for a child until at least between the ages of 11 and 13.”

Parental Guidance Suggested

Experts recommend parents be very involved in their child’s experience with electronic devices, especially at a young age. The goal is balanced exposure. “Parents should keep media screens in family areas so that a child’s media usage can be monitored, and TVs and computers should be kept out of bedrooms,” Jaynes says. You can help your child get more out of a smartphone or tablet by sharing in the experience. Engage with your child as he tries out a new app, asking questions about the game and pointing out different aspects of the content. This practice, typically called “co-viewing” when applied to TV-watching, can help increase your child’s comprehension skills, Jaynes says.

However, doctors warn not to underestimate the learning power of reading a book with your child or spending time exploring the outdoors.

“Parents need to be models for their children. While we’re all embracing these great aspects of these digital devices, parents have to strike a balance, turn them off and spend real time with their children,” says Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics on communications and media. “The real world is a very important place for children to develop cognitive, social and language skills.” Clark-Pearson suggests allowing your child to take photos of bugs with your iPhone, then going online together to read more about the insects in the images they capture.

Limit Screen Time

“I would recommend no more than a half an hour per sitting for a four to five year old, no more than an hour per sitting for a six to seven year old,” Galindo says.  “I recommend no more than two hours for a high school student per sitting if the gaming is the focus of the interaction. However, if the student is using the device as a productivity tool that time would obviously be greater.”

As your child gets older, you can allow for more freedom. Galindo suggests using a gradual release model where you allow the child more time with the device as he proves he can handle it. Also keep in mind the risk of eye problems that too much screen time could cause. “Some clinicians suggest the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away,” Jaynes says.

Content Matters

Whether you opt for a smartphone through your wireless carrier, or for many of the other tablets that continue to hit the market, there will be plenty of kid-friendly content to consider. “It’s important to focus on the content and message when making age-appropriate media choices. What children watch and play matters,” says Jaynes. She recommends that parents learn to distinguish between educational and entertainment-based content. Another good idea is to look for an age range listed on the app, keeping in mind what your child can handle.

For users of the iPad or iPhone, there are many apps that teach basic math, metric conversion, time, money and fractions, geography, the U.S. Constitution, Shakespeare, as well as tools for learning art and music. LeapFrog, known for its educational games and products for children, recently introduced a tablet for children ages four to nine called the LeapPad that has its own apps. Parents can also download apps from Zoodles.com, and check out sites like Common Sense Media or SmartAppsforKids.com that review kid-friendly apps.

“There are many games and interactive activities on mobile devices that are not necessarily about school subjects but still useful for children and beyond purely entertainment,” Jaynes says. “Games and activities that engage children in thinking skills like memory games, puzzles, spatial reasoning activities; nurturing skills such as digital pets; and creative skills – drawing, making music – are also great choices.”

Another Dimension of Learning

For school-age children, a smartphone or tablet can give them an additional learning layer, beyond the traditional classroom or book. “Smartphones and tablets provide students with multiple opportunities to access content and engage with curriculum,” Galindo says. “They connect students to the world beyond the four walls of their brick and mortar buildings and give them access to real world experts solving real world problems in real time. Technology makes their learning relevant.”

This article was taken from PBS.org.

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