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5 SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR YOUR SENSITIVE KID

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Sensory smart parenting made easy.

Jayden, an active preschooler, loves the playground. After a few minutes, he’s so revved up that he starts running around, bulldozes over other children in his path, and then digs into the sandbox, spraying his little sister, Jenny, nearby. Jenny starts crying because she hates sand on her skin, and it’s sticking more than usual because she refused to let you properly rub in sunblock. She can’t stand that either. You manage to calm both kids down and head to the supermarket because you forgot to buy frozen spinach cakes, the only vegetable they’ll eat. You bribe them with cookies to behave and grab another brand of spinach cakes because they’re out of the usual one. Maybe they won’t notice? Fortunately, your spouse bathes the kids so you can make dinner, turning up the music to tune out the complaints:

“The bath is too hot!”
“You’re pulling my hair!”
“My pajamas hurt!”
“That music is too LOUD!”

Then you serve dinner. The kids are pleased with the mac n’ cheese at exactly the temperature they like but … the spinach cakes are WRONG. Jenny starts to wail and Jayden calls her a baby. And the nighttime battles begin.

Quirks vs. Sensory Issues?

Do your child’s likes and dislikes make you feel like you’re catering to a cute but impossible dictator? All of us have preferences and intolerances. But there’s a big difference between the endearing quirks that all kids have and sensory issues that make living with children SO very difficult at times.

We all learn through our senses, both the familiar ones—touch, sight, sound, taste and smell—and some that are less well known: vestibular (our sense of movement), proprioception (our internal body awareness), and interoception (our sense of physiological well-being or distress). Sensory processing refers to how we transform all of these sensory messages into useful information so we know what’s going on in the world and with our bodies so we can respond proportionately.

Some of our kids, and some of us, are wired differently. When people have sensory processing issues, their brains do not interpret sensory information accurately and reliably, so their responses may be out of proportion. They may overreact to certain sensory experiences that don’t seem to bother anyone else. They might be hypersensitive, feeling things too intensely and thus overreacting to a tiny scratch or to getting messy with glue or paint. The hypersensitive child might be fussy about clothing or food textures. A child can also be hyposensitive (underreactive), needing a lot of input for it to register in his brain—stuffing his mouth with food to feel it in there, sprawling on the floor during circle time to feel the floor beneath him, or playing too roughly at recess. Many kids have sensory meltdowns when there is too much input to process, as can happen in a busy classroom or crowded store. Fortunately there are “sensory smart” parenting hacks you can use to minimize the effect of these sensitivities.

1.Keep a journal to help you predict and prepare for sensory-related problems.

Write out where the problem happened, what preceded it, the problematic behavior and what seemed to help.

2. Create a visual or written list of the day’s events so your child knows what to expect.

Children (and many adults) feel more confident and capable when they know what’s ahead. If a disliked activity is planned, collaborate on ways to make it more tolerable such as downloading favorite music on your smartphone for your child to hear while she’s sitting in the doctor’s office.

3. Bring a bag of tricks to help your child stay on an even keel.

If you know your child gets fidgety when waiting in line, keep a supply of calming items: an unbreakable show globe, a container of putty, chewing gum and so on. If your child is sensitive to noise, bring sound-reducing earmuffs, noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs.

4. Get them moving! Kids need to move, some more than others.

If your child is bouncing off the walls when it’s time to sit down for dinner, plan ahead and have him get intense movement before dinner such as climbing a few sets of stairs, jumping on a mini-trampoline with a safety bar (or a mat on the floor), running laps and so on. If your kid loves screens, put on a gonoodle.com or other online activity that encourages movement. Exercise keeps kids healthy and also generates those feel-good chemicals that keep kids happy too.

5. Take breaks and don’t over-schedule.

We’re all overworked and overbooked these days. We mighy be used to it, and lots of kids thrive on being busy, but sensitive kids need downtime. Keeping it together at school all day among active kids and all of those academic, social and behavioral demands is a lot to ask of a sensitive child. Taking a short restorative break in a quiet, softly lit room or taking a peaceful walk in a park after school can make all the difference!

When to Get Help

Some kids, teens and adults have sensory challenges so significant that they interfere with learning, playing, working—and the ability to parent confidently. Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of children have what’s called sensory processing disorder (SPD), including those diagnosed with autism and attention deficits, as well as kids who do not have any other developmental issues. The Sensory Checklist in Raising a Sensory Smart Child, which you can also download from sensorysmarts.com, will help you better understand your child’s sensitivities. A pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in sensory challenges can help you create more sensory-friendly environments and routines while, even more importantly, building your child’s ability to better process everyday sensory experiences.

HOW TO UNSCHEDULE YOUR CHILD

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It’s come to this: Doctors are now being told to prescribe play. The American Academy of Pediatrics details the urgency of the matter in a policy statement. There is a play deficit in this country, and we know it, don’t we? In articles about parenting, it seems that there’s no breed dissected more than that of the bubble-wrapped child who’s shuttled from Mandarin to fencing to organic cheese making classes until bedtime. We love reminiscing about the days when we could hop on bikes and meander for hours with the neighborhood kids (few of whose names our parents ever took the time to learn), and yearn for our kids to have that experience. We’ve learned that play enhances brain structure, helps kids practice empathy and makes them more creative and innovative.

And yet it’s strangely difficult to crack some of the structure of children’s lives. I know that I feel some pressure to add more adult instruction to my daughter’s days when I’m handed an inch-thick packet of extracurricular activities by her school teacher (“Ooh, robotics fight club”), or when other parents ask me what her schedule looks like for the fall (“Um, we’ve got Halloween?”), or when I read interviews by musicians and dancers and athletes who mention they started their paths to mastery at age three (“Argh, we’re already too late!”). To back off, it takes some real willpower and planning. Here are some tips for unscheduling your child in today’s overscheduled world.

BE REALISTIC

You don’t need to move to the woods so your kids can frolic in streams all day to give your family more healthy play time. There are benefits of having scheduled activities—higher self-esteem, lower rates of drug and alcohol use over time and social bonds. Some parents of middle schoolers told me that having their kids deeply involved in extracurriculars they love is what has kept them mostly safe during a time of peer pressure and emotional disarray.

The goal here is simply to protect your kids’ downtime. Denise Pope, one of the authors of Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids, tells the New York Times that young children need an hour of play time (which does not include dinner or homework or baths) for every after-school scheduled hour. You might set a rule for your kids such as one sport or activity per season. (I’ve decided to put my daughter in another voice class, which she absolutely loves.) You have to find the right balance for your family.

START WITH A GOOD PLAYTIME SETTING

Dr. Robert Murray, the lead author of the AAP report The Crucial Role of Recess, tells me, “Parents can absolutely help their child find safe, interesting environments for them to explore—but it’s important to let him or her self-direct.” He suggests playgrounds, beaches and streams, woods and parks, fields, the zoo, local farms or indoor spaces where kids can pretend play with peers. Wherever you choose to go, step back and give them some “BE Time,” which he describes as the antidote to parent-directed activities.

At home, give kids access to open-ended materials to tinker with, even stuff you might see as junkBlocks are always awesome, but so are random pieces of string, aluminum foil, masking tape, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls and emptied shampoo bottles.

PREPARE FOR THE SUCK

Realize that it’s sometimes hard to give kids downtime. On weekends, the first thing my daughter asks when she wakes up is “Where are we going today?” When I tell her nowhere, she whines and declares that is so boring. And then parent-friends will start texting me: “What are you up to today? Wanna bring the kids to library story time? Or princess ballet class? Or go watch a movie?”And I often want to say “Yes!” It would be easy to strap my kid into the car and do any one of those things. But it’s good to sometimes say no. I know that my daughter’s groans will eventually turn to silence, and as I do my own thing around the house, I’ll often find her cheerfully playing with her dollhouse or making something out of a cardboard box or drawing with chalk in the backyard.

Put white space on your calendar and prepare for some protests. Then find something to do and let your kids do the same.

CONNECT WITH OTHER BACK-OFF PARENTS

Some parents are finding that as much as they want to unschedule their kids, there’s a problem: Their children have no one to play with. Playgrounds are barren as every other kid is off at chess or tae kwon do at 3:30 PM. A project called Let Grow is addressing that issue, connecting local parents who want to give their kids more independence by doing less for them. You can sign up to find nearby families.

Once you find other likeminded moms and dads, you might consider setting up a play street, in which community members transform a residential city block a car-free space for children and families to play together, say, either weekly or monthly, or lobby schools to start their own play clubs, in which they keep their gyms or playgrounds open till dinnertime for self-directed free play.

It’s true that unscheduling kids takes a lot more work than it did years ago. But after doing it, you may very well find that your family will be less stressed and happier. And plus, it’s the doctor’s orders.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR KID’S TEACHER WANTS TO TALK ABOUT BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS

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Be ready to listen and help create a plan.

A creeping feeling of dread comes the first time the teacher reaches out. Early in the school year, the teacher pulls you aside or sends an email saying,“Can we find some time to talk?” Most parents know in the back of their mind some behavior challenges are on the horizon, but don’t know how they’ll manifest in school. As a parent, the conversations that follow can be daunting. But you can do your child, and yourself, a world of good if you hone in on what your child’s teacher is saying. Here are five steps to engage with your teacher in the most productive way possible.

1. Don’t Panic

The teacher isn’t judging you. She isn’t judging your child. In fact, everybody involved is aligned on the same goal: how can we create the best possible experience for this child? Of course, you’re going to have anxiety over the wellbeing of your child, so it’s not easy to put it aside. But in its place, view the conversation as an invitation to start a dialogue. Until you have more information, you don’t want to make assumptions about the road ahead.

2. Listen

Your teacher spends a lot of time with your child, especially in the early grades. Teachers know your child and want to see him succeed. As the conversation begins with your teacher, gather as much information as you can. Ask her to be specific about the behaviors that have been observed, and why they are concerning. Here are some specific questions you can ask:

  • How big of a problem is this? The teacher could simply be telling you about a single challenging episode, just so you know, with no long-term plan of action necessary. Or, they could be clueing you into a more significant problem.
  • What is the nature of the problem? It could be things like trouble with transitions, or aggression.
  • Should we be pulling in more resources? There are many things a school can do to help a kid who is struggling, including specific supports at school (sometimes called Response to Intervention or RTI) all the way to arranging for an evaluation for your child. An evaluation is a more significant step, but also opens up doors to increased aid and professional services your child may be entitled to. Schools are responsible for creating learning environments for all students.
  • What supports might help at home? The teacher will have some ideas about tools and methods that might work at home. Even better, they can match the system at school.

3. Build a Team and Stay Positive

Everyone wants your child to succeed. If you get defensive, it makes the team less productive. If the teacher is helping you understand the onset of more complex issues, the two of you are going to have to work together to communicate with doctors and insurance. You’ll want to plot out strategies and understand how you can navigate your specific school to create the best environment possible for your child. Your teacher isn’t blaming you and wants to work with you. Complex problems are going to mean stepping into a world of increased supports with a catacomb-like vocabulary. Your teacher and the school staff have been there before. At the point you get here, you’ll also want to turn to your pediatrician, and start thinking about additional professional services (like a psychologist or clinical social worker).

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t be able to talk to school staff with trust. While you shouldn’t give up on re-establishing that trust, there are members of your community you can turn to. Many communities will have a SEPAC (special education parent advisory council) that can help. A special education advocate can also be a starting point, since they’ll know the system. Finding a local advocate is usually as simple as turning to your local parent community (a Facebook group in your hometown) and asking for recommendations.

4. Follow Up

Once a teacher alerts you there’s a problem, try to check in after you first talk. This is going to be the first clue on how seriously the teacher takes the problem. If the check-in suggests everyone has moved on, that’s great. If the teacher is talking about supports that have been put in place and how everyone is responding to them, then you have a clue they view the challenges as something that will persist. If supports are ongoing, try to keep checking in, and see how things are progressing. Even if your child is receiving supports, you should still expect progress. Schools are getting better about taking data and should be able to tell you how things are going.

5. Find Ways to Support Your Child in the Home

You can extend your child’s learning into your home. What this looks like will depend on what challenges you’re facing. Your teacher might have some recommendations, or you could echo the supports being used in the classroom. If you’ve reached out to your doctor, then they might have some ideas as well. I personally tend to recommend methods that reward kids’ innate drive to learn through exploration. At some level, we all know we’re not going to be able to reason kids through behavioral challenges. But we can tap into experiential learning. Sports can do this; some kids find a place where they latch onto the teamwork aspect. Surprisingly, video games can sometimes pull off the same trick, especially if the family can play together and develop ways to cooperate.

Jason Kahn PhD is a dad, Researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, Instructor at Harvard Medical School, Co-founder & Chief Science Officer at Mightier. Mightier uses the power of bioresponsive games to help kids build and practice calming skills to meet real-world challenges.

MY TOP 5 SCHOOL STAIN REMOVAL HACKS

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Marker pen, gravy and glue. If I had $1 for every time the oldest comes home from school wearing one or all three of those items I would be significantly richer than I am now.

The question is: how best to remove them?


stain removal hacks

If you’ve got one or more kids at school like me you’ll know stains go with the territory – ranging from the innocent to the best-not-think-about-it downright suspicious. My attitude to these stains ranges from the ‘must remove said stain immediately’ to the ‘it can wait until the weekend’ sort of a stain, depending on where we are in the working week, and indeed the school year.


stain removal hacks

I’ve acquired quite an armoury of products to deal with these stains, and I’m a sucker for new ones to help in the constant battle too. So, what’s in my armoury at the moment? A month into the new school year and with half term rapidly approaching I thought now would be a good time to share my top 5 school stain removal hacks.

My top 5 school stain removal hacks

1. Whiteboard marker

Now blackboards have been superseded by whiteboards there’s a new stain in town: the dreaded whiteboard marker. They come in every colour of the rainbow and in our school the kids are allowed and even encouragedto use them. Who in their right mind lets a child loose with a marker pen? Sadly, they don’t simply wipe off their school uniform like they do the whiteboard, either.

The solution:

Hairspray. Put kitchen roll under the item of clothing and area of the stain, then spray it within an inch of its life. Blot the stain and repeat the process until the stain is gone, then wash as normal.


stain removal hacks

2. Code brown

Yes, I am talking number twos (not whole ones, but marks left by them). I don’t know what it is about school compared with home (I’m pretty sure tracing paper loo roll was outlawed years ago) but I regularly find tyre marks in undercrackers (don’t worry, I’ll spare you a picture).

The solution:

ACE for Colours. I love a new find and ACE is one of my latest – if you haven’t heard of ACE for Colours before it’s a liquid stain remover (£2) with an ‘8+ system’ designed to tackle stubborn stains including ‘body soils’, which is a polite way of saying code brown. Just fill the dosing cap with ACE, stick it in the machine on top of the offending item and bingo: tyre marks have vanished.


stain removal hacks

3. Gravy

What do they put in school gravy? My goodness the stuff sticks! Roast dinner is on Thursdays where we are, and you can put money on the oldest coming home with a splattered front and dipped cuffs. Owing to the fact it’s Thursday you could just leave it (no-one’s spotlessly clean on a Friday, right?) but if you really can’t stand it or gravy is served up earlier in the week there is an answer.

The solution:

ACE Stain Remover, which I discovered alongside ACE for Colours. There’s no need for a full wash and dry for this one, a simple sponge down will do: just spray some ACE stain remover directly onto a sponge or cloth and apply it to the gravy stain. As well as taking away the stain it also takes away the smell – leaving a fresh one in its place!


stain removal hacks

4. Grass

If they play on a field grass stains are inevitable, the question is what’s the best way to tackle them? Forget washing uniform over and over again in the vain hope the stains will eventually fade – there’s a far easier solution.

The solution:

White vinegar and baking soda – and a bit of old-fashioned elbow grease. Pour the vinegar into a bowl, soak the stain (or stains – there’s never just one, is there) for 10 minutes, then remove from the bowl. Dip an old toothbrush in the vinegar, and then dip it in the baking soda. Using a circular motion scrub the stain with the toothbrush until it’s gone, then wash as normal. It really works, I promise!


stain removal hacks

5. Glue

Remember that glue we used to have when we were at school that peeled off when it dried? Well they don’t appear to use that anymore. I don’t know what type of glue it is but what I do know is that they use it a lot and it doesn’t come off easily. Even worse, it sometimes contains glitter (and I hate glitter).

The solution:

Cold water and liquid laundry detergent. Make sure the glue is completely dry, then scrape off as much as you can. Soak the item of clothing in cold water overnight, then massage liquid laundry detergent into the stain. Wash as normal at your usual temperature, et voila!


stain removal hacks

Do you have any school stain removal hacks? I’d love to know what they are – the weirder the better!

 

This article was written by crummymummy1 from Confessions of a Crummy Mummy and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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.

THINKING ABOUT SCIENCE

The Goddard SchoolScience is more than test tubes, microscopes and formulas. Scientific thinking involves asking questions, learning from mistakes, trying again, exploring new activities and solving problems. Children are natural scientific thinkers, and they want to learn and solve problems.

Young children benefit from the active, hands-on activities that foster scientific learning in every Goddard School classroom. Encouraging your young scientists at home is easy and fun. As you try the following activities with your children, talk about what is happening, ask questions and encourage them to describe what they see.

  • Bake with your children. Watch yeast rising, or see what happens if you don’t follow the recipe carefully;
  • Grow flowers or a vegetable garden. Chart your plants’ growth and note any changes. Enjoy harvesting your garden together, and let your children help make a healthy salad for your family;
  • Visit a farmers’ market or a farm to learn about animals, the effects of weather on plants and more;
  • Take apart an old clock or phone and reassemble it;
  • Make steam or watch ice melt;
  • Look for patterns in the natural world, such as the lines in bark or the symmetry of flower petals. Describe the sights, smells and sounds you experience on a walk;
  • Offer your children magnifying glasses;
  • Visit a children’s museum or natural history museum;
  • Go outside at night and look at the stars;
  • Ask your children what will happen when you roll a ball, walk a Slinky down stairs, manipulate clay and use other items, and then test their hypotheses. This can be a lot of fun.

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

FAST AND EASY BREAKFAST IDEAS

Leaving the house in the morning can be hectic with children. Parents want to feed their children healthy, balanced meals that will get them through the morning, but it can be hard to think of healthy breakfast ideas that the children will like. Here are some quick and easy breakfast options.

Fruit-Infused Baked Oatmeal (makes about six servings)

1 cup rolled oats

½ tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ cup sugar-free maple syrup

1 cup almond milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tbsp. butter, softened or melted

3 ripe bananas, sliced

1 cup fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a square or rectangular baking dish. Mix the oats, baking powder and cinnamon until they are well mixed. Combine the syrup, milk, egg and butter. Place the sliced bananas in a single layer on the bottom of your baking dish. Top the bananas with half of the berries. Pour the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer. Then, pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats. Place the remaining berries evenly on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is browned. Let the oatmeal cool a few minutes before serving it. If you make it the night before, cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator so you can reheat it in the morning.


Banana Split Breakfast Sundae

1 large banana, peeled and cut in half lengthwise

1 cup Greek yogurt in the flavor of your choice

½ cup granola

1 tbsp. ground flax seed

¼ cup raisins or berries (optional)

Place each banana half in a cereal bowl and top each with half of the yogurt. Then, sprinkle half of the granola, flax seed and berries on each.


Spinach and Cheese Omelet Cupcakes

2 cups washed baby spinach

4 large eggs or the equivalent in egg substitute

2 egg whites

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

A dash of salt and pepper

1 tsp. olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray. Mix the spinach, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and egg whites. Add the eggs to the spinach mixture, and then add the shredded cheese. Mix well. Pour the mixture into each cup in the cupcake pan until the cup is halfway full. Bake until the omelets are fully cooked, which will take about 20-24 minutes.  Let them cool about two minutes and serve them, or wrap them up in foil and store them in the refrigerator for the next morning. Reheat them in a microwave or toaster oven.


Simple Nut Butter and Honey Sandwich

Grab a piece of your child’s favorite whole grain bread and spread on a nut butter. If you have a nut allergy in the family, try a butter made from roasted sunflower seeds. Then, drizzle on some local honey and serve the sandwich with a glass of almond milk or orange juice. For added flavor, you can place a few slivers of apple on top or sprinkle the sandwich with dried cranberries.

HOW TO HAVE A SAFE AND FUN HALLOWEEN

Halloween is a magical night where the world of make-believe comes alive for children, but it can also be a great time to practice good manners, good sense and good fun!

The Goddard School and Trampoline Learning provide essential tips for a safe and happy Halloween.

Before Halloween:

  • Avoid masks that make seeing difficult. Opt for face paint instead.
  • Be sure that children can walk easily in their costumes. Hem if necessary.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes. While high heeled shoes are fancy, it’s easy to fall in them and little feet will tire quickly.
  • Provide children with a glow stick or add reflective tape to their costumes so that they can be seen by cars as it gets dark.
  • Plan your route so that children do not become overtired. Agree ahead of time about how many houses you will visit.
  • Explain that children must stay with parents and that they should walk, not run from house to house.
  • Take the opportunity to explain that normally children should not speak with strangers. Remind them that Halloween is a special time when it is alright for them to go door to door because you will be with them to keep them safe.
  • Share your expectations about using good manners BEFORE you go out. Let children practice trick or treating at their own door a few times. Reward good trick or treating manners with a treat!
  • Bring a flashlight to light the way.

When Trick-or-treating:

  • Start early before it gets dark.
  • Be sure children are traveling in small groups accompanied by a responsible adult.
  • Only go to houses where lights are on, preferably those in which you know the resident.
  • Be respectful of people and property. Use sidewalks. Remind children that it is not polite to walk through gardens, hedges or across lawns.
  • Cross only at intersections and crosswalks. Watch for moving vehicles.
  • Be careful around lit candles in jack-o-lanterns.
  • Ring the door bell or knock on the door only once.
  • If you are with a group, wait patiently for your turn. No pushing or shoving!
  • Say, “Trick or treat!” in a loud, clear voice.
  • If you know the homeowner, greet them with, “Hello, Mr./Ms. ____.” Make eye contact as you speak.
  • Be sure to say, “Thank you!” or “Happy Halloween!” once you have received your treat.
  • If someone compliments you on your costume, remember to say, “Thank you.”

After Trick-or-treating:

  • Discard treats that are unwrapped, loosely wrapped, damaged or homemade.
  • Limit the amount of candy your child can enjoy in one sitting. Agree on a number and stick to it.

PREPARING YOUR CHILD TO READ

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Reading is one of life’s most important skills, that’s why parents should focus on reading readiness early in their child’s life. Reading begins with language and how it relates to your child’s world. Creating a language-rich environment will help your child’s vocabulary grow. A print-rich environment may also help prepare your child for reading by making the connection between your child’s world and the symbols we use to communicate.

Below are some suggestions on the steps you should take for infants through toddlers. Our next post will look at ideas for preschool and pre-Kindergarten-age children.

INFANT TO ONE YEAR

 Read simple board books with one picture per page, contrasting colors or simple pictures, and point to the items on each page.

 While reading to your child, make faces–it’s fun and your child will notice subtle differences.

 Allow your child to point and turn book pages.

 Describe everything; name colors, shapes and sizes.

FIRST STEPS (12-18 months)

 Read longer stories to your child and allow him or her to interact with the book–pointing, turning pages or even turning the book upside-down.

 Name objects as your child points.

 Make noises! Imitate cars, animals and eating sounds during play.

 Speak to your child in a normal tone to demonstrate accurate sound recognition.

 Enunciate words of interest like M-M-Mommy.

 As syllables start to represent words, such as “juice” and “more,” expand upon them  (e.g., “apple juice,” “Would you like more apple juice?”).

TODDLER (18-30 months)

 Read everything–signs, labels, toys and your child’s name.

 Take cues from your child—interested, not interested, read or just look at the pictures, read more or stop before the end of the story?

 Find and point out shapes and symbols in your home or community.

 Recite rhymes and alliterations; pause to allow your child to fill in the last word or phrase.

 Play games where symbols lead to action (e.g., two orange squares on the card means to move two orange spaces).

CHOCOLATE-BANANA YOGURT SUNDAE

Spruce up snack time or dessert with this delicious chocolate-banana yogurt sundae!

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INGREDIENTS

  • Non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Banana
  • Shredded coconut

Spoon a desired amount of yogurt into a dish. Slice up the banana, and place the slices in the yogurt. Then drizzle with chocolate sauce. Sprinkle shredded coconut over the sundae.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.