Make time for books

Read to your child.  That’s it.  Reading is beneficial to children’s development.  Research shows that reading builds a love of reading, increases literacy skills later on, and develops positive relationships with caregivers.

When should I start reading to my child?
Today.  It is never too early to read to a child.  3 days or 3 months.  Children are constantly absorbing language.  That’s why when your child does begin to talk, the words will come out like the flood gates are opening.  A trickle at first, then full blown word flood.  Children hear anywhere from 13-45 MILLION words in the first four years, depending on how much parents talk and read to them.

As a newborn, have someone read while you feed the baby. Chapter books are great for newborns.   When you are making dinner and your baby is sitting happily in a bouncy seat, or wrapped up in a carrier, read your dinner recipe aloud.  Anything to hear words.

As baby grows and you develop a bedtime routine, take 5-10 minutes to look at books together.  Before or after bath to help wind down is a great time.  Maybe after breakfast or lunch place a book on their highchair tray while you clean up the dishes.  If your child is at the age (6-12 months) where everything goes in their mouth, provide sturdy board books or cloth books.  The idea is, allow children to explore books at their level.  If chewing on one book while you read another is where he is, let him go.  You don’t want to create a negative experience of books by saying “No” throughout story time.

As baby grows and starts moving, some children have a hard time sitting still for a book.  The key is, keep reading.  Allow baby to stand up, move around and explore the room, but you keep reading.  You are continuing the routine of story time (no matter what time of day).  And, he is still absorbing your words, and will ultimately come back for his favorite part of the book, or to look at a picture you point out.

When buying or borrowing books, the key is to find books that are simple. Look for books with one or all of the following:

  • few words to a page
  • simple, solid color pictures
  • repetitive phrases
  • touch and feel
  • lift the flap
  • action words

Here, are some favorite books!

 

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Sharing is Caring.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday.

Be kind.
Share.
Take turns.
Say thank you.

Simple rules children are taught.  Some adults even need a refresher.  Regardless, it can be difficult at a play group, birthday party, or at the library, for a child to understand sharing.  As always, one of the best ways to teach a child something is to model it yourself.  Be the person you want your son or daughter to be.

The thing is, it can be hard to teach sharing “in the moment”.  At a play date, and your daughter won’t give up the teacup, even though she is playing with a puzzle.  Or your son rips the cowboy vest out of someone’s hands.  You can surely explain, its Mikey’s turn with the toy and your child will begin pouting, but that’s okay because you want them to understand everyone has to have a turn.  But before you get to that play date, let’s work on some play share techniques at home.

Play that involves structured turn taking is a great way to model sharing.   Rolling a ball back and forth, feeding a baby doll, holding the teddy, playing with the pretend hammer, mixing in the play kitchen.  Almost everything you do, you can create a time to model sharing.

Proudly announce “My turn!” and pat your chest with your hand, then take a turn with the ball.  You can quickly whisk away the ball from your child before he has time to react and roll it across the room.  “Your turn!” and motion for your child to go get the ball.  By acting quickly, and not lingering on the  “Can mommy have a turn?”/puppy dog eyes, your child should barely blink over the fact that he no longer has the ball.  If you ask your child if you can have a turn, chances are, he’s going to say “No.”  Continue this game back and forth a few times.  Eventually when you say “My turn!” your child will hand the ball over with a smile.  As long as he knows he is going to get it back.

A group setting, family game night perhaps, its great to use everyone’s name, “Daddy’s turn”  “Sally’s turn” “Johnny’s turn”  Your child may even enjoy playing the helper who gives the toy to whoever’s turn it is.

When your child shares, or relinquishes a favorite toy, praise them!  They love it!  “Great job Nora, you shared the red block with Owen.  What a good friend.”  A hug will top it off.

If you are in a social setting and you can see tension rising over a toy, intervene.  “Remember when Mommy and you shared the ball at home?  First it was Mommy’s turn, then Billy’s turn, then Mommy’s turn, then Billy’s turn. Now it is Sammy’s turn and then it will be Billy’s turn!”

As children get older, help them work it out themselves.
“If you want the football, ask John if he wants to have a catch?”
or “Play with the blocks until he is finished with the football.”

Now, go play.  And teach your children the importance of sharing, kindness, and compassion.

 

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Snow Day? Play!

This winter weather calls for some sensory play.

The snow makes everything look beautiful and peaceful.  And then your kids wake up.  Being snowed in can be tough.  Cabin fever is real.  Here are some ways to embrace the winter weather with your little ones.

  1.  Play in the snow of course.  Bundle up and get outside!  Walk around, crunching through the snow, get out the sled, and throw a snowball.  Pull the beach toys out of the garage and build a snow castle!
  2. If you want to keep the snow play low key, put towels down and place some snow on a baking sheet.  Throw a hat and mittens on your babe for fun and let her have an indoor snow day
  3. Hot Chocolate!  Cozy up with a cup and share with your little one.
    -If you have a wee babe who is solely on breast milk or formula, pour some hot chocolate in a cup, swirl it around and dump it out.  You can even wipe out any excess.  The cup will still smell like hot chocolate and makes a great sensory toy.
    -Pour some cocoa powder on a piece of art paper and spritz it with some water.  Edible fingerpaint!
  4. Snow Day Bubble Bath – who says baths have to be just for getting clean?  Play!  Blow bubbles in the air and throw some kitchen funnels in the tub. You could even bring some snowballs inside and watch them disappear as you drop them in the bath water.

Other ways to cure cabin fever…
Whether Sun or Snow

Cloud dough, snow dough, same thing

Warm up with movement

It was Mommy, in the library, with the legos.

Art you brave?

How do you stay sane when snowed in?
What was your favorite thing to do when you were a child and school was closed because of the snow?
Comment below!

Timely Meltdowns

When you are making dinner, the half hour before bedtime, noon, 9 am, when you are trying to leave the house, you always know its coming.  That specific time of day when your infant or toddler just…can’t…keep…it…together.  And you are about to lose it too.

As newborns, sorry but it’s inevitable and there’s not much you can do.  Hang in there.  They grow up so fast.

For older babies and toddlers there are some ways to help keep the sanity in your house.  Whenever that special time of the day is, have a tool kit handy.

Pre-dinner meltdown?
Supply your mini monster with a lunch box of healthy snacks.  Carrot sticks, hummus, fruit, milk.  As long as it’s healthy, don’t worry about them filling up before dinner.  If your child isn’t at solids yet, give them the same lunch box with some empty containers and fun utensils (think spaghetti spoon, tongs, wooden spoon).

Before Bed Breakdown?
Chances are, everyone is tired.  Try a game that involves the whole family.  Through your newborn in a sling or take turns cradling while you follow a youtube video to learn a new dance, and laugh with each other through the process.  Snowball toss into a laundry basket using crumpled up junk mail (let the kids crumple the paper!), or make a ramp with an old cardbox (we all know you have an Amazon Prime box somewhere) for matchbox car races.

Out the door and out of your mind?
Outline a steering wheel on a paper plate and write your child’s name on the plate.  Keep it by the door with a set of toy keys so he can take his steering wheel and “drive” it around the house while you look for YOUR keys.

The “key” to all of these is to keep specific activities sacred to certain times of the day.  This way, your child will look forward to playing at this time or it will seem like a brand new toy.  When children have the same toys out all the time, they get boring.  Old news.  Another reason to rotate toys.  More on that coming soon.

Hang in there!  Bedtime will happen.  Then have a glass of wine, a cup of tea, or just go to bed.  You deserve it!