{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Archive for August, 2020

How to Keep Your Children Connected with Their Grandparents

grandparent holding baby

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

I remember my grandmother so vividly – her huge laugh and her insistence on the proper way to make a cup of tea. I also remember the lessons learned from her, and that connection has influenced my life to this day. Research in brain development shows that the interactions between children and their families build connections among neurons¹. Building positive and strong personal relationships helps to promote healthy brain development.   

My grandmother lived in England, so I did not see her often, but I still have a collection of those blue airmail letters that kept us in touch. We are more fortunate today. There are many more ways to stay connected when you live far away. 

The book Connecting Families: The Impact of New Communication Technologies on Domestic Life, edited by CarmanNeustaedter, Steve Harrison and Abigail Sellen, is about how technology has changed how families interact. The positive aspects include the ability to develop closely bonded relationships with family and friends both near and far.  

Here are a few approaches that can support your family in staying connected. The key is to do things that come naturally to all of you and are highly interesting to your children. This will help keep these virtual visits more fun and meaningful. 

Sharing routines – Spend a few minutes each day doing something fun, like a morning stretch or a few yoga poses. This could also be a time to chat about a plan for the day or eat breakfast together. Prop up the phone or tablet on the table, and share a mealtime. 

Reading a book – Your child can pick out a favorite story. Your parents can read part of the story each day for a few minutes each week, or they can read the story in one sitting. You may want to break it up for younger children. I have started to record myself reading a story, and then send the book to my greatniece in the mail. She gets a new book each month and then puts on the video and follows along as I read to her.   

Having a family contest – A lot of families have told me they love this one. Everyone gets sent a bag of things. For example, send out crayons, glue, paper and ribbons. The challenge is to make paper airplanes. The first video chat is about making the planes. The second is the virtual flying contest. It is easy to make the kits. Another idea is decorating face masks and sharing the results. 

Playing games – This can be done in several ways. Many games lend themselves to virtual visits, such as charades or board games (if all the teams and players have the same game). For example, if one player throws the dice and moves piece on the game board, the other team or player can do the same move with the opponent’s piece on the board to follow along 

Supporting schoolwork – Many parents have asked for help with this. Grandparents can help review the children’s work, teach them how to do a math problem or offer suggestions for completing the work. The children can connect with their grandparents while their parents take a break. Screensharing helps supports this because the grandparents see what the child is working on and where the child might need support. 

¹National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2007). The science of early childhood development: Closing the gap between what wknow and what wdo. Center on the Developing Child: Harvard University. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

Three Approaches to Teaching Your Child to Be Kind

women holding preschool child

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

We all want our children to be happy, well liked and good to others. How do we support our children in learning to be kind? This topic often comes up in fall as children make new friends at school, and it is part of the National Bullying Prevention Month messages. This year, we will want to use same approaches to online interactions since so many children are interacting with classmates, friends and family members through video chats.  

Children develop social-emotional skills in many ways. The three approaches that make the most impact are modeling role playing and playing games, and storytelling. Parents can help to build a foundation for their young children by incorporating these approaches in their families’ daily activities.   

Modeling – Act kind yourself. Modeling is by far the best way to instill kind behavior in your children. Children love to imitate us, and if we act in a kind manner, they will, tooPraise your children when they exhibit kindness, and explain why you thought what they did was a kind thing to do. It’ll become a habit. When you see kindness in others, share your thoughts with your children. “That was so kind of Jane to share her snack with you at school.” In an online situation, compliment your child (i.e., “You waited your turn to speak.  That was great!”). When our children hear the praise we give others, they will want to exhibit the same behavior. Try not to be negative, and redirect your children when they act unkindly. For example, explain how the other person may feel, talk about what your children could have done differently and help your children apologize.  

Role Playing and Playing Games – Create opportunities for your child to play. Your child will act out reallife situations while playing with stuffed animals, robotic toys and dolls. Interacting in unguided play with other children also supports learning to get along with others. Playing games can be part of dramatic play, tooGames help children learn to take turns and develop sportsmanship. Try games where your children need to collaborate with another player to win. Relay races, parachute games and family scavenger hunts are several good choices.   

Reading and Sharing Stories – Read stories where the characters must make decisions about their behaviors. Talk about the consequences of both kind and not-so-kind actions. Children learn through the stories by relating to the characters and the events. Here are some favorites that focus on kindness to get you started: 

  • If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson 
  • I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët 
  • Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton 
  • The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace 
  • Possum’s Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter 

You can also share stories from your childhood or from your family’s experiences. These are important to young children and can help them learn life’s lessons. 

 

More Than Just Fun and Games: What Children Can Learn from Playing Games

child playing board game with parent

By Helen Hadani, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

After sheltering in place for several months, many families are digging deep into their closets and garages for games that haven’t seen the light of day for months or even years. For families with young children, classic games like Chutes and Ladders, Go Fish and Candyland are fun ways to enjoy family time, but they also promote important social skills, including taking turns and sharing, and academic skills, such as counting, color matching and comparing numbers.  

By definition, games include rules. Remembering those rules requires working memory (the part of our memory that allows us to hold and mentally manipulate information in our minds), and following rules often requires self-control. For example, children have to resist the urge to touch their toes when playing Simon Says unless they hear the magic words “Simon says.” Similarly, in the classic outdoor game Red Light, Green Light, children need to exhibit self-control and only run fast when they hear “green light.” Even just waiting until it is your turn can be hard! 

Simple card games like Go Fish, Old Maid and Crazy Eights involve matching suits or numbers, which promotes early math skills. When children roll dice or use a spinner to determine the number of spaces they should move, they have an opportunity to practice counting. In fact, researchers have found that playing a number-based board game like Chutes and Ladders can improve preschoolers’ numerical knowledge and skills. 

Games are meant to be sources of entertainment and joy (and they bring out the competitive side in some of us), but research shows that some games can also promote cognitive and social skills.  

Don’t worry if your children ask to play their favorite game more times than you want to count – they are learning along the way as they get to that last spot on the board! 

Seven Ways to Help Your Children Develop a Positive Relationship with Food

three children eating ice cream

Candy is junk food. It’s not good for you.  

You need to eat your broccoli. It’s so healthy! 

You can have dessert after you finish your dinner 

Do any of these statements sound familiar? I’ve heard them throughout my life, so I have always labeled foods as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy and nutritious or junkWe are all trained to believe that foods can only be one or the other 

I never thought about the effects of labeling food until I became a mom. When my son started eating solid foods, I furiously searched for articles by nutrition experts who could tell me exactly what I needed to do to ensure he developed a healthy relationship with food. My own food insecurities took over my brain, and all I could think was, Will my sweet tooth be passed down to him so he’ll gorge himself on cupcakes all day? That wouldn’t happen on my watch! My goal was to raise a vegetable-loving, fresh-foodeating son.  

Did I achieve this goal? Well, no. Is my fridge filled with dinosaur nuggets and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Maybe. Have I given up? No. I’m proud to say that my son loves carrots.  

Is that the only vegetable he eats right now? Yes.  

I’m only human, and I’ve made some mistakes on my journey toward helping my son cultivate a healthy relationship with food. I’d like to share some of the insightful tips that have helped me reevaluate harmful attitudes toward food that I’ve learned. 

Do Not Label Foods as Good or BadThe first and most important step is to make a conscious decision to stop calling foods goodbadhealthy or unhealthywhich is something discussed in a previous article about how to handle sweets at home. Pediatric nutritionist Jill Castle recommends using the words nourishing or fun 

In an article on her website, Castle shares a real-life example of the harm that labeling foods may cause. She discusses a client who was frustrated that her daughter didn’t make healthier choices. The client would ask her daughter, Are you sure you want that?” and “Couldn’t you choose something healthier?” Her daughter did try to make good choices, but she felt deep shame about enjoying her “bad” choices, too. 

“Ultimately, [the daughter] became conflicted about food, which started to eat away at her self-esteem. She didn’t feel good about herself (or the foods she enjoyed eating) and knew she wasn’t meeting her mom’s food expectations,” Castle said. 

 To avoid unintentional harm, I like to use registered dietitian Jennifer Anderson’s method for discussing foods without labeling them. Read the text in her Instagram post to learn how to tailor your conversations to the ages of your children.  

 say-this-about-food-instead-kids-eat-in-color

Do Not Pressure, Force or Bribe Children to EatPressuring children to eat can include pleading with them to take another bite, spoonfeeding them as they resist or bribing them with dessert. 

Young children are experts at understanding their bodies’ cues about food. They know when they’re hungry and when they’re fullIf we plead, force or bribe children to eat, we’re teaching them to ignore those cues. Using dessert as a bribe can lead over- or undereating as children focus on getting to the sweets. 

Alisha Grogan, a pediatric occupational therapist, says,“[] in the long run we’re accidentally reinforcing that the food that’s on their dinner plate really isn’t as good as the dessert. It sends the message that the food during the meal is something that just has to be endured to get the real prize.”  

Do Not Restrict FoodsSweet treats, fried foods and sugary drinks are everywhere. At some point, most children will develop a taste for themIf you don’t allow these foods in the house, it could cause a greater desire for them. This can lead to secret eating, binge eating and overeating 

Like adults, kids want what they can’t or don’t have. It’s human nature,” says Castle. 

Take away the candy, and kids can’t stop thinking about it. However, unlike adults, kids have less control over their biological drive to eat. 

 Maintain an eating schedule, and don’t stray from it. My son was a grazer, so we gave him snacks with milk or diluted juice throughout the day. Then, we were flummoxed when he wouldn’t eat during our main meals. Well, why would he? He ate all day. Once we set specific times for meals and snacks, we fell into a stressless feeding routine.  

Remember the Division of Responsibility. Renowned therapist, author and lecturer Ellyn Satter developed the Division of Responsibility to help make feeding your children less stressful. Basically, parents are responsible for what, when and where they serve their children food, and children are responsible for how much and whether to eat. Once I started to practice this method, mealtimes became much less stressful. I didn’t feel any need to pressure my son to eat, which meant he could listen to his own body and his hunger cues. I highly recommend reading through all of the resources from the Ellyn Satter Institute. 

Serve dessert with dinner. Wait, what? By serving a small portion of dessert with dinner, you’ve removed the feelings of restriction that can lead to cravings while making fun foods less of a novelty or soughtafter reward. When children know they get to have dessert and no foods are off limits, it can lessen their feelings of deprivation and guilt. They learn what a moderate portion is and how to incorporate fun foods into a balanced diet 

You don’t need to serve dessert every night or provide a fun food free-for-all. You can still set boundaries with your children, but your goal is to teach them balance. Jill Castle has some great tips for how to get started setting food boundaries. 

Repeatedly introduce new foods. Let your children get used to seeing new foods. My son’s reaction to them is usually “EWWW!” and that’s fine. Let your children know that they don’t have to eat the new food if they don’t want to, so there’s no pressure to eat – and no battles about eating! It can take children anywhere from 12 to 30 exposures to a new food before they’re willing to try it. 

Here are some other great ideas: 

  • Plant a garden together; 
  • Take your children grocery shopping and let them find fruits and vegetables they want to try; 
  • Prepare meals together; 
  • Try serving family-style meals. 

 Even if your children refuse to eat a rainbow of foods, it’s okay! It takes time, and your children’s limited eating habits don’t make you a bad parent. Give yourself a break, and please don’t compare your family’s dietary habits to anyone else’s. Even though my son isn’t interested in expanding his vegetable palate right now, we have gotten to a point where he will try a few new things – even if it’s a quick lick and a grimace. That’s a win in my book!  

Healthy Fruit Ice Pops Your Child Is Sure to Love

With so many delicious seasonal options, fruit-based treats are a perfect way to cool off in the summertime! These healthy ice pop recipes are sure to be crowd-pleasers, and the recipes are so quick and easy that little chefs can help make them, so get out your popsicle molds and start freezing!

Watermelon Kiwi Ice Pop

Ingredients

  • 3 kiwis
  • 3 to 4 cups of cubed watermelon

Directions

  1. Peel the kiwis and blend them in a blender for one minute or until smooth. Have your child help you pour the juice into your popsicle molds until the molds are about one-quarter full and freeze the molds for one hour.
  2. Slice a watermelon into chunks. Blend three to four cups of watermelon in a blender for one to two minutes on high until smooth.
  3. Have your child help you pour the watermelon juice into your popsicle molds and freeze them for another one to two hours.
  4. Once your popsicles are frozen, remove the molds from the freezer and run the outside of the molds under warm water for a few seconds so you can easily remove the popsicles.

Sourcehttps://www.soljinutrition.com/blog/2017/6/8/watermelon-popsicles-the-perfect-treat-for-those-hot-summer-days

Peach Strawberry Yogurt Layer Ice Pop

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of strawberries
  • 3 cups of peeled and sliced peaches
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • ⅔ cup of vanilla Greek yogurt

Directions

  1. Puree the strawberries with four teaspoons of honey, and set the mixture to the side.
  2. Puree the sliced peaches with two teaspoons of honey, and set the mixture to the side.
  3. Have your child help you create layered popsicles by adding two teaspoons of strawberry puree, one teaspoon of yogurt and two teaspoons of peach puree to the molds and repeating until your molds are almost full. Make one of the fruit purees the last layer.
  4. Tap the mold on the counter so the layers settle, then have your child use a spoon to drag vertically from the bottom of the mold to the top a few times to create a swirled pattern. Tap the molds on the countertop again to remove air bubbles.
  5. Freeze the popsicles for at least six hours.

Source – https://www.jessicagavin.com/make-your-own-homemade-fruit-popsicles/

Orange-Banana Smoothie Ice Pop

Ingredients

  • 1 6-oz. container of Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of thawed orange juice concentrate
  • 2 large bananas
  • The zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice

Directions

  1. Puree the yogurt, thawed orange juice concentrate, bananas, lime zest and fresh lime juice together.
  2. Have your child help you pour the mixture into six three-ounce popsicle molds, or divide it among the cups of a small muffin tin and add a popsicle stick to each cup. Freeze the popsicles for four hours.
  3. Once your popsicles are frozen, remove the molds from the freezer and run the outside of the molds under warm water for a few seconds so you can easily remove the popsicles.

Sourcehttps://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/recipes/a2845/orange-banana-smoothie-pops-recipe/