Talking to your child about traumatic events

This is a sensible and, in a way, unpleasant topic. Unfortunately, traumatic events happen. With the constant hum of newsfeeds and social media, we are always aware of them, and so are our children. Kids are emotional, they worry more because their feelings are amplified by innocent imagination. As parents, it is our duty to guide them through unpleasant events that can leave a mark on their minds.

We found an article that might be of help, click on it, or continue reading it below on this page: http://www.parentscanada.com/family-life/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-traumatic-events

How to talk to your kids about traumatic events

By Sara Dimerman, Psychologist on February 16, 2016

It used to be a rare occasion that I would be called upon to offer an opinion or advice on how to talk to kids about a traumatic event. Unfortunately, the calls are no longer so rare, as our normally safe world is threatened by people determined to scare, hurt – even kill – those around us. Our little ones are not immune to the fear.

In an attempt to prepare for heinous acts or even benign threats, the very places that children see as safe havens away from home, have implemented drills to prepare students and staff in the event that they need to react quickly. Lockdown drills are common in schools, for example. If a crime is in progress in the neighbourhood, students are locked in their classrooms and told to stay away from the door.

Even though preparation is important, it can also engender fear and panic in young minds. Today, unlike the way that most of us grew up, little children feel a greater need for vigilance. And beyond this, catastrophic events – being reported in a much more pervasive way than 20 years ago – highlight the belief that the world is not entirely safe. Even young children are exposed to this news via social media, or as a result of hearing it from an older sibling. This has resulted in more children manifesting anxiety at an even younger age than years ago.

Despite our awareness that the world does not feel quite as safe as it did when many of us were children (maybe we were simply less aware of bad news without the constant hum of newsfeeds and social media), there are still ways for us to help our children feel protected and safe.

  • Note When People Help Others During Difficult Times: This helps illustrate that there are many more good people to balance, or even outweigh, the bad.
  • Note That Calm Usually Outweighs Chaos: As frightening as the event is, remind kids that there are still more calm days than chaotic ones. Remind your child that this type of event hardly ever happens (even though you might worry that it’s happening more often than before). Young kids don’t need to know the whole truth, especially when it’s so important for them to feel safe and secure.
  • Let Kids Know Adults Have a Plan: Even though we prepare kids to know what to do in an emergency, we can remind them that adults will lead the way and that they can rest assured that they will not have to be in charge.
  • Expand Kids’ Circle of Trusted Adults: Kids feel safer knowing that we are not the only adults who can help them. So, when you don’t arrive on time to pick your child up after school he doesn’t panic. He knows he can ask the teacher or principal for help. He knows he can call a neighbour, a family member or your best friend. Knowing that there are several reliable and accessible adults can help create a wider safety net and make your child feel more secure.
  • Turn Off the News: It is our job to cut the news feed after a short while when our children are with us, especially if the crisis is ongoing. We need to be aware of how we talk about the event when our children are present, and how they are taking in the information.

Through The Ages

  • Preschoolers: Very young children, especially those with younger or similar aged siblings, are more protected from the wildfire nature of bad news spreading across a school playground, for example. This, along with your conscious awareness of when and how to talk about any traumatic event, will protect very young children from worrying about them.
  • School Aged: Once children begin attending school, they will start to hear about news and current events before you can tell them. In addition, some teachers may bring news events into the classroom with the best of intentions. Some children may respond to these events more emotionally than others. Watch for any change in your child’s moods and keep up on what is going on around them when they are not in your care. Then, try to deescalate the situation by helping your child feel that the world is mostly a safe place.
  • Teens: It’s virtually impossible (pun intended) to keep your older child away from social media. So, don’t be surprised if he or she brings recent news events to your attention. Rather than having to wait for the next newscast or newspaper to be printed, we now get second by second broadcasts as they happen. This has many advantages but can also create a greater need for hyper vigilance and anxiety as your teen experiences and tries to process the news. Try to be aware of social media apps so that you keep up with your older child’s world.
Sara Dimerman is a psychologist, author and parenting expert in the Greater Toronto Area. Read more at helpmesara.com.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, February/March 2016.

10 Activities to help your baby’s brain development

Parents typically respond intuitively to cues from their child, picking them up when they cry, talking to them when they are excited. What many parents don’t know, is that by simply responding to their baby’s cues, they are helping their newborn child’s brain develop.

Check the following article to discover 10 activities to help your baby’s brain development: https://www.parentscanada.com/baby/10-activities-to-help-your-baby-s-brain-development

For your convenience, we put the information about these 10 activities below on this page. Have a pleasant reading.

To illustrate what brain growth looks like, Dr. Clinton holds her hands six inches apart and moves her fingers about like tentacles to show what a baby’s neuropathways look like at birth. Slowly she brings her fingers closer together until they are touching. Then she overlaps her fingers and neatly clasps her hands together. This represents how stimulation affects a fully formed brain. These are the top 10 activities that will help build your baby’s brain.

EYE CONTACT

Baby researchers have a term for the simple interplay between a parent and child. They call it “the serve and return” because, says Dr. Clinton, it’s like a game of tennis in which you play back and forth. “When they look at you, you respond by smiling or talking. That’s just what we know how to do as parents. You don’t need fancy tablets or flash cards. You just need to connect with your child.”

TOUCHING

“Touch is a primal need,” says Dr. Clinton. That’s why babies love to be held. The late Clyde Hertzman, who was director of the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) and Canada Research Chair in Population Health and Human Development at UBC, said touching also helps babies begin to define their boundaries. “There is evidence to show that children who were neglected and not touched have real trouble defining where their personal boundaries begin.” Clyde said even the simple motion of picking a child up and putting them down is an important touch for babies. “They begin to be able to intuitively define where the self ends and where the non-self begins, where their body ends and where the next persons begins.”

PLAYTIME

At some point all children learn the game of throwing food over the side of their highchair and watching mom or dad pick it up. Through this simple game babies are learning about action and reaction and how to interact with their environment. “They love the anticipation of peekaboo,” says Dr. Clinton. “It’s all about cause and effect and object permanence. You’re teaching them that even when you don’t see me, I’m still here. That’s hugely important.”

Babies also like things to be predictable, says Adele Diamond, Canada Research Chair Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia and B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. “They LOVE seeing their actions produce an effect and being able to re-produce that again and again, like kicking or pulling the string of a mobile to see it move or pressing on a button to make a buzzer sound.” Adele suggests giving babies challenges that make them work hard but that are still doable. For example, between eight and 12 months, you can place a desired object where the baby can see it, but out of reach, under a cloth, or behind a transparent pane. The baby needs to figure out that getting the object requires pulling on the cloth or reaching around the barrier.

READING

Reading to your baby is one of the most powerful things you can do because it is multi-sensorial, says Dr. Clinton. “When you hold and rock your child while you are reading, it involves sight, hearing, touch and smell.” Studies show newborns even recognize books their mothers read aloud while they were pregnant.

BATHTIME

The sensory experience of soothing water can help boost brain development. For an added bonding bonus, climb into the tub with baby to maximize precious skin-to-skin contact.

SMELLS

Introducing different scents can be a fun way to stimulate your baby’s brain development. Try applying lavender lotion during a nightly massage or take a trip to the garden to smell the flowers.

RESPONDING

Parents often receive mixed messages about when and how often to respond to their crying baby. Crying is a response to stress for a baby and is the only way they have to communicate. When we pick them up, says Dr. Clinton, we are teaching them that the world is there for them, so don’t secondguess your instinct to pick them up. Babies who get picked up and soothed will likely cry less because they’re developing their own self-soothing techniques, said Clyde. “Children are influencing their environment right off the bat and you responding to the cues they’re giving is a huge thing. It’s telling them that you hear what they are saying.”

GENDER VARIETY

Studies show that, regardless of culture, men play differently with children than women, and babies benefit from both kinds of play. “While women tend to cuddle with baby, men tend to pick baby up, hold them out front and walk their fingers along them from the bottom to the top,” says Dr. Clinton. “It’s terrific because mom is soothing and dad activates excitement so the little one hears dad’s voice and gets excited.” This applies to grandpas, uncles and male friends, too.

TALKING

By talking to your baby, you are helping them develop their vocabulary even when they’re infants. “All that babbling and cooing that’s going on early, that’s the child’s prelanguage skills developing,” said Clyde. “Babies express their needs and start to communicate in a variety of ways. Parents need to recognize that’s communication.” Studies have shown that the number of words a child learns by the age of three grows in direct correlation to how many words are spoken in the home.

RELAXING

Cuddling with your baby is as important as being active with them. “Don’t make it all about language and brain,” said Clyde. As with so much parenting advice, it’s all about balance. “If we’re frantically saying to new parents that they have to make every single moment count, their presence is being stolen by their anxiety. When you’re connecting with your child, think about what you’re doing with your child as a person, not about whether you’re building your child’s brain.”

Denise Davy has written extensively about children’s mental health, and recently won a journalism award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to study the link between poverty and children’s mental health.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May/June 2013.

The Perfectionist Children

Kids can be perfectionists too! While this certainly isn’t a bad thing, sometimes it can lead to a child’s frustration. At home, at school, looking up to parents, teachers and other classmates – it can create highly raised standards for oneself.

This source will provide you with advises on how to help kids achieve the sense of balance between striving hard and being too hard on him/her-self: http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/perfectionist-child/

You will also find the content of this article below on this page.

Pint-Size Perfectionist

By Tamekia Reece from Parents Magazine

Children this age think that they should be able to do everything exactly right all the time. Help your child understand that making mistakes is part of life.

A few months into kindergarten last year, I thought that my son Darren’s handwriting looked awesome — so much better than the barely recognizable letters on his preschool papers. He had a different opinion: It was “terrible” because it didn’t exactly match the examples his teacher wrote. I wouldn’t have been as concerned about his criticism if it were an isolated incident. But just weeks before the penmanship problem, he’d had a melt-down when he couldn’t remember all the stances from his first karate class. And when he recently had to draw a volcano for a homework assignment, he burst into tears and crumpled the paper because his rendition didn’t “look like the ones on TV.”

I chatted with Darren’s teacher and a couple of child-development experts because I was concerned that his behavior might be a sign of low self-esteem. What I was relieved to find out: It’s perfectly normal for some children his age to become obsessed with doing everything perfectly and start comparing themselves with their classmates, their teachers, and even you. “In kindergarten and first grade, many kids think there is one right way to do things, and everything else is wrong,” says Peter Stavinoha, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. “They have a hard time understanding why they don’t have the same skills as their classmates or even adults and why they can’t master something immediately.” So you have some explaining to do. Use these expert tips to help your mini perfectionist strike that delicate balance between striving hard and being too hard on himself.

Compliment the Process

Think about how you praise your child. Maybe you say things like, “Wow, I’m so proud that your team won the soccer game!” or “You tied your shoes perfectly.” When you constantly focus on the end result rather than the journey, your kid will think that success is what really matters to you, explains Michele Borba, Ed.D., Parents advisor and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. Instead, help her realize that enjoying an activity and learning from it are much more important than winning or losing. Next time, emphasize your child’s effort (“You’re working so hard on drawing your picture for Grandma’s birthday”) or how much fun she’s having (“It looks like you had a great time playing Chutes and Ladders with your friend”). It won’t take long for your child to realize that playing for enjoyment can be just as much fun as winning.

Let Your Kid Make Mistakes

Darren writes his letters and numbers backwards once in a while. I used to point out the error immediately, but now I usually don’t say a word — even if the mistake is on a homework sheet that he has to hand in for school. “When you’re always correcting your kid’s mistakes, he’ll think that you want him to be perfect,” says Wendy S. Grolnick, Ph.D., coauthor of Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids. “On the flip side, if you allow your child to turn in schoolwork that is truly his own, he can get comfortable with constructive feedback from the teacher. That will help give him the confidence that he can succeed without your help.”

More Tips

Dare Not to Compare

It’s natural to want to know how your child is doing in relation to her classmates or even siblings — after all, you’ve probably been making comparisons since she was born. But try not to talk about it in front of her. When you say things like “Your painting was the best at the open house,” or “Jamie learned how to ride her bike without training wheels when she was your age,” you’re simply fueling your kid’s desire to do things perfectly. Sure, you need to know if your kid is on track developmentally, but save your comments for your child’s teacher or pediatrician.

Keep It Real

If your child thinks she should be able to get the hang of a sport or grasp a new math concept the first time out, she’s setting herself up for disappointment, says Dr. Borba. Use your family’s experiences to help her understand that even people she admires weren’t always as good at something as they are now. For instance, encourage your kid to ask her T-ball coach how long he’s been playing the game. Or talk to the dentist about how many years of school it took to get his degree. Also pick up a few kid-oriented biographies at the library. Two good picks to read along with your child: You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! and Who Was Walt Disney?

Play Creatively

Finger-painting, Legos, Play-Doh, sand art, and other open-ended projects are ideal for helping young perfectionists chill out. Because there’s no right or wrong result, these activities foster something that’s important for all children to learn: There are usually many different ways to do things.

Point Out Your Own Imperfections

If you tell a kindergartner that he can’t be perfect, he’ll take it personally. He doesn’t realize that you mean no one can be perfect. To help him understand, note your own goof-ups, like when you accidentally spill the juice or forget to put something on your grocery-shopping list. “It’s helpful for kids to see that everyone makes errors,” says Dr. Stavinoha. Then model how to deal with your gaffes because children will watch your reaction. “Rather than getting upset about something that went wrong, convey to your child that mistakes are just part of learning,” says Dr. Grolnick. “Point out what you could have done differently so it won’t happen again.” It will take a while, but eventually your child will copy your reaction and not get so flustered or frustrated when something doesn’t go the way he’d planned.

Originally published in the November 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

Children and Watching TV

Watching TV is something our children do a lot, maybe even, to often. Yet if you want your child to have better imagination, a more agile mind, and treasured memories of quality time spent with family, then limiting their time in front of the TV might be a good way to start. Your child will become more focused and more physically active. In other words, raising kids without television will improve their quality of life.

If you want to raise “No TV Children” and would like some advises on how to do it, here is an article we recommend: http://www.wikihow.com/Raise-No-TV-Children.

As always, for your convenience we’ve added the content of the article below.

How to Raise No TV Children

Nowadays it can be very hard to raise a so-called “No TV Kid”. Yet if you want your child to have a better imagination, more free time, and treasured memories of quality time spent with family, getting rid of the TV could be a great option. Moreover, studies link frequent television viewing with obesity, lower academic performance, and other issues, so raising children without television can improve their quality of life. By choosing the right method of ending TV viewing, and by planning alternative activities, you can get your children on board with the idea and enrich their youth.

Part 1. Starting the Lifestyle

1.Explain your concerns.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two do not watch TV at all, and that all other children have no more than one or two hours of screen time per day.Explain to your children that you are trying to do what is best for them, and to encourage healthy habits.

2.Avoid ever introducing a television into your home, if possible.

It can be much easier to raise children with a “no TV” policy if they have never experienced having a television at home. While there will still be temptations to watch TV in other locations, you will start strong by keeping it out of your home.

3.Set a good example.

If you want to raise a no-TV child, then you will have to model good behavior. Whether you completely eliminate television from your child’s life or simply restrict the amount they watch, set your own viewing policy to match the same standards that you set for your child. Showing a good example for your children will make it more likely that they adopt the no-TV lifestyle.

4.Start by removing the television from your child’s room, if there is one.

Studies show that having televisions in childrens’ room can have a detrimental impact on their health and academic success. If you are trying to ease your children off of television, you can begin by taking them out of their rooms; the children could still watch some TV in another room, but this step will already reduce screen time significantly.

5.Go cold turkey.

For some families, starting a no-TV lifestyle “cold turkey” (immediately cutting out all TV without a period of gradual reduction) is too difficult. For others, however, the quickest method will be the easiest. If you want to try going cold turkey, talk to your family ahead of time about the change. Set a date to begin the no-TV life, and stick to it.

  • Whether you go cold turkey or make a gradual change, the goal should be to eliminate TV and offer your child more enriching alternatives.

 

Part 2. Creating Alternatives

1.Reduce the amount of time a child spends watching television.

Studies show that there can be some benefits to watching some amount of television in certain cases. For instance, children that watched certain enriching programs have slightly larger vocabularies, according to some research. Thus, you might decide not to cut out all television right away, but to gradually reduce the amount of time the child is allowed to watch TV.

  • For instance, try reducing the amount of TV your child is permitted to watch by one hour per week, until it is zero or almost zero.
  • You can also suggest that the whole family watches a movie on television together on the weekend, but ban TV at night during the week.
  • Similarly, you might have a rule that no television is permitted until the child completes all homework or chores.
  • If you do watch some TV together, talk about it afterwards. This helps increase comprehension, raise vocabulary, and generally promote bonding.

2.Establish “screen-free” zones and times.

If you have not immediately removed all televisions from your household, you can start by deeming certain areas or times to be “screen-free.” For instance, you can establish a rule against watching television at mealtimes, and remove televisions from areas where other activities take place, such as kitchens, dining rooms, or game rooms.

3.Make sure the child has access to non-electronic media and entertainment.

Books, newspapers, games, art supplies, and other items can be immersive, entertaining, and beneficial to a child. Make sure that your child has plenty of access to these more enriching alternatives to television.

4.Plan family and group activities.

There are many, many wonderful opportunities to spend time time together that don’t involve television. You can help your child thrive without TV if you are proactive and plan alternative, group activities ahead of time—especially if you are switching from a lifestyle involving lots of TV viewing to a no-TV one. Good choices include:

  • Game nights (the whole family can get together to play a favorite board game)
  • Reading out loud
  • Crafting
  • Playing music
  • Visits to the library, zoo, a museum, a park, or other favorite place
  • Playing outside with other kids in the neighborhood
  • Extracurricular activities (sports, dance, outdoors, crafts, etc.; these are great ways for your child to connect with other children, build confidence and skill, and avoid screen time)

5.Plan individual activities.

There are all kinds of benefits to spending no-TV time together as a family. Children also develop well when they are given time to spend by themselves. Children can benefit from having time to immerse themselves in free reading, drawing or coloring, and other activities.

  • Sometimes, you can take a combined approach. For instance, an entire family can read silently together, each person immersed in a book. That way, while everyone is together, they also get to act individually. This sets a good example for your child, and makes great use of no-TV time.

6.Exercise.

There is a link between obesity and watching large amounts of television, so one of the most beneficial ways to use your and your child’s time instead of watching television is to exercise. Good activities include:

  • Games such as tag and hide-and-seek
  • Dancing
  • A family walk or hike
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Sports (baseball, basketball, etc.)

7.Let your child direct activities.

If your children feels like they have a say in planning the no-TV life, it can be empowering and lead to success. Talk to your children about activities that they might like to try instead of watching TV, and be supportive of the ideas. Set aside time during the week to do the activities your child wants the family to try.

Have fun trying out your child’s ideas, no matter what they are: building a pillow fort, having a tea party, playing with blocks and action figures, etc.

Happy Birthday to Step By Step Daycare!

Happy Birthday to Step By Step Daycare!

Today is an exciting day! We are turning 9 years old! Over these years we had an exciting and wonderful time with our children, we were happy for every chance to know closer every girl and boy enrolled with our daycare.

We would like to thank all the parents that have entrusted their children’s education with our teachers.

Step By Step Children’s Academy,

Happy Birthday!

Nutrients that boost your child’s brain development

Toddlers are in constant growth, not only their bodies, but their brains are developing too, thinking about new words, ideas and solutions. All this requires fuel. Where to find it?

The nutrients that will boost your toddler’s brain are listed in this article:
http://www.parentscanada.com/toddler/nutrients-that-boost-your-child-s-brain-development

We have added the content of this article below.

Nutrients that boost your child’s brain development

By Allison Tannis

What is your toddler’s favourite food? Probably not beans or spinach. Yet, each day their little bodies grow, and their brains figure out how to create words, solve puzzles and mobilize their bodies to into more precarious locations. Encouraging our kids to eat healthy is important to that growth and development. Knowing where to start helps, so here are four nutrients your toddler needs.

Iron

If a toddler’s body doesn’t have enough iron, it can affect the way the brain develops and functions. To be more specific, iron is needed for the creation of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves. The myelin sheath sort of insulates nerves so they can conduct messages faster and more efficiently from your toddler’s head to their little pudgy toes. Scientists have found toddlers who lack sufficient iron in their diet have lower attention, memory and cognitive skills. In one Greek study, researchers found supplementing iron deficient three- and four-year-olds improved their attention and cognition.

Where to find it: Snack foods like dried apricots, beans, seeds, almonds and edamame beans and in toddler-approved dinner foods, including tofu cubes, roasted chicken legs and cooked spinach (try hiding spinach in pasta sauce or under the cheese on pizza).

DHA

Salmon is called ‘pink chicken’ in our family as that was the only way our parents could get their pickiest grandchild to eat it. Salmon is a great source of protein to help a toddler’s muscles recover after all of their attempts to climb, run and jump higher and faster. Most importantly, salmon is packed with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid. Fish oil is vital to the development of a toddler’s brain and eyes. Children have extremely low intakes of DHA (19mg/day), far lower than the recommended minimum intake of 90mg of DHA by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Of note, many omega-3 experts recommend guidelines be closer to 350 mg per day for children.

Where to find it: In salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies and sardines.

Vitamin A

This nutrient also helps toddlers’ nerve development. Vitamin A is needed by the nervous system to grow and create its intricate pattern of nerves that send messages from your toddlers’ little fingers to his brain.

Where to find it: In green and orange vegetables, including carrots, kale, sweet potatoes and red-leafed lettuce.

Zinc

In order to grow, the body creates new cells and it needs zinc to do that. Zinc deficiency limits a child’s growth and reduces their ability to fight off infections. In addition, zinc affects how a toddler’s brain works. A study in the Journal of Nutrition, showed that children who are deficient in zinc have lower cognitive (thinking) and motor (moving) function.

Where to find it: Pumpkin seeds, lentils, shellfish and nuts (only if there is no allergy concern). Another great source of zinc is wheat germ – you can sprinkle it into oatmeal, hide in a smoothie or use in recipes instead of breadcrumbs.

Tips and Tricks

  • Set an example: Kids eat what Mom eats. That’s right, Mom – if you want your toddler to eat a healthy diet, you’ll need to clean up your own eating habits. In a recent study published in Health and Education Research, it was reported that a better way to improve a child’s diet is a positive parental role model, not trying to control their diet.
  • Make the most of snack time: Use small, brightly coloured storage containers to make healthy, hand-held, on-the-go, finger-food snacks for your toddlers. Fill them with berries, cut up veggies, nuts and dried fruits, or puffed kamut. For best results, keep the healthy foods you offer in small, bite-sized pieces; studies show it can reduce hostility in kids and increases their likelihood of eating it.
  • Make food look fun: Create silly faces on a plate using healthy foods (fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables) and dips (almond butter or hummus).

How to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read

Reading does wonders for a child, it trains imagination, helps the mind explore new emotions and increases vocabulary. However, with the constant presence of smartphones and widescreen TV’s, it is quiet challenging to convince our children on how important reading really is.

If you agree with us and would like to help your child discover the beauty of reading, check the article we found on the topic: https://www.wikihow.com/Raise-a-Child-Who-Loves-to-Read

For your convenience we’ve added the content of the article below.

How to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read

You can create a home environment that will beckon your child into the wonderful world of literature. Books and the characters in literature play a massive role in school, college and life, and can also lead to interest in pursuing a professional career if the interest is high. Reading is a lifelong hobby and can help build the imagination, vocabulary and education of your child.

1. Start early

Teaching your child to read can start in the womb. Let the fetus listen to Western Classical music by placing headphones against your tummy – Classical Symphonies have a highly beneficial effect on the forming mind. Read to the kid before and after birth as much as possible. Try to avoid baby talk. Talk to him or her as you would to any older child or adult. Give the growing little one ABC building blocks, and enact children’s stories and simplified Shakespeare stories for them in a way that excites their imagination.

  • Fill your home with books and Illustrated Classics for Children. Stock up all the traditional fairy stories – Hans Christian Andersen, Aesop’s Fables and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Buy plenty of books for yourself to set an example of the love of reading. The books you choose do not have to be new and expensive, and indeed, showing your child the joy of reading and exchanging or sharing books is another important life lesson in reading fast, sharing, and not cluttering. Purchase a wide range of books both age-appropriate for your child and all kinds of other books for your home. If your child gets used to seeing books in every room and lining the bookshelves, this image becomes very important when they start to think about the importance and entertainment value of reading. Show excitement about buying and borrowing books and don’t forget to get many books for yourself too.
  • There are many bookstores that cater for children but you can just as easily go to used bookstores or library book sales with your child, starting at a young age. Take your child with you as this help them to be intimately involved in the journey to loving reading. Let them choose a few books as well as you selecting some books that can be read together, so that they feel they own the decision about some of the books.
  • Consider even buying two of the same books so you can both read and use them as a challenge. When you finish, you can ask each other questions about the book.
  • Used books are cheap! For the younger child, look into picture books and independent reading books as well as sing-a-long or listen and read books to help them gain the knowledge to read better.
  • Art books can be found on bargain tables in book stores; place these on your coffee table and encourage perusal at any time.
  • Buy or build bookshelves to house your precious reading material. If your child sees a wide range of books and can see each title at a glance, they will be more likely to pick one up and read it. Place books in different rooms in your home, maybe in baskets or on stands.

2. Purchase or borrow other media.

Reading sources such as magazines, newspapers, etc., are another way to interest your child in reading. Invest in subscriptions to magazines that you enjoy and with content suitable for a child. If your child sees you reading different media, they may get an interest in such varied topics as fashion, current events, sports, animals, films, etc. Newspapers are great to teach both you and your child about the real world. Read these at the breakfast table or after work in a comfortable setting minus the blaring TV. This sets an example to your child about what people do to learn and relax at once. Newspapers are something your child recognize as a source on what is happening outside of your family circle.

  • Teach your child how to read a newspaper, including finding relevant information in different sections of the paper, such as world news, public notices, cartoons, etc.
  • Many family oriented magazines include a kid’s section. Direct your kid to that section so that they can do the puzzles, enter the competitions, and read while doing so.
  • Listen to audiobooks on CD or Mp3.
  • Given the increasing popularity of e-readers, the iPad, etc., also consider including these sources of electronic reading material in your child’s life. Depending on age, there are electronic books such as the Leap Pad® learning system that allow the child to read the books using a pen; these are generally aimed at children aged from toddler to around 10, although foreign language versions can be used longer if wished. Beyond that, older children can progress to the more detailed (and costly) eBooks for e-readers, iPads, computers, etc.

3. Give books as presents.

Books are ideal gifts for birthdays, holidays, Christmas, traveling, as rewards, etc. Many books that are given for a special occasion or reason will become a special memory and will be long treasured. Write a loving message in the front so that the memento is well remembered.

  • Remind your relatives and friends to give books they loved as children to your child, to broaden their knowledge of different literature from different eras.

4. Teach your child to respect and love books.

If you can teach children to see books as their lifelong friends, they’ll have innate respect for them. The love of reading will come from observing your love of reading, from the pleasure of getting new information for themselves from reading, and from the sheer utility of being able to read such things as game manuals, school information, and TV programs!

  • Inform your child of the rules of caring for books such as not drawing or writing in library books, and not throwing away unwanted books but donating them instead. Avoid lecturing; simply explain in terms of why books are special objects and deserve our respect.

5. Spend time in the library together as a regular outing.

Let your child choose favorite books to read and borrow, and encourage your child to explore the library and enjoy all of the activities it offers. Your child will come to associate visiting the library with being close to you, spending time around enjoyable things to read and do, and as a place of quiet, thinking time.

  • From early on, teach children how to be responsible with library books and have them take responsibility for the fees associated with returning books late. This is good learning about self-responsibility, anticipation, meeting deadlines, and being conscious of sharing responsibilities. It’s also a lesson in budgeting if you insist late fees come out of their pocket money! Only do this if the child can go to the library alone on foot or on bicycle to return the books. Imposing a penalty on them for your forgetfulness teaches the opposite lesson.

6. Teach your child about famous writers, actors and characters who are in books, or who write classic books.

Show them pictures of famous authors and tell them about their lives. You child may decide that he or she wants to write books too; do all you can to encourage this by providing paper and pens, and commenting favorably on all writing efforts.

7. Read often and your child will mimic you.

Try reading at certain times during the day, such as at midday sitting in the sun, or by a warm fire, or in bed, or before breakfast. Leave stacks of reading material in such places as your bed and on a chair so that your child can see books and reading matter as a normal part of your lifestyle. This reading role modeling will encourage your child and you can be assured that if you are a reader, then so will be your child.

8. Read to and with your child.

Children benefit from listening to reading and reading along. Get your child to sound out words and to read a sentence as you continue the story. This makes them feel a part of the learning process and helps to make the story more interactive. Also tuck them in bed, read aloud, and let them fall asleep to a good story. Make this a daily habit. Keep the reading habit up for as long as your child enjoys you reading to him or her. This can even go into teen years if you turn reading out loud into a household activity at least once a week, in which the whole family gathers together to listen to an interesting book while relaxing.

  • Find a love interest in a particular book. Some children fall in love with a book, Peter Pan, Snow White, Cinderella, Lassie etc. Read it to them over and over when they ask. Read the book especially at bedtime as they fall asleep. If your child ever has nightmares, you can use this favorite book to calm them and help them return to sleep.

9. Maintain a regime for reading but be spontaneous.

If your child wants to read at night before bed, let them read for a time limit and then lights out. Tell them they can read with a flashlight in the dark if they want. Make it fun and a special reward for good behavior. Small children really love this “big boy/girl” reading reward, and it becomes a good habit for them to read before they sleep.

  • “Come to terms” with the advancing technology, as the days are gone when nights were used just to read and study. Computer games and Xbox are here as well as TV and texting on cell phones. Try to encourage your child to fit in some reading every day.

10. Pay attention to your child’s changing interests.

As your child gets older, pay attention to subjects that interest your tween or teen. Focus on bringing books into the house that reflect their growing interests and continue to reward them with books and book vouchers.

  • Encourage your child’s curiosity in finding answers to questions they might have. This will often lead them to books on the subject and further encourage the reading habit.
  • Don’t neglect books in foreign languages. If your child is bilingual or shows an interest in other cultures, foster this through reading books in other languages as well. Even if you don’t know a second language, there are many options available to help your child – and you – learn as you go.

11. Go to a book club.

At first, join a book club that’s suitable for young children and families. As they get older, take them to a book club for their age, and when it is time, let them go alone or drop them off and you can grab a coffee or read a book yourself. They will see that other people their age are interested in books and that this passion isn’t as dorky as some of the teenagers might be suggesting.

12. Avoid pressuring your child.

When your child is not interested in a certain book, just put it away. Try to read to them what they are most interested in but also introduce new books all the time. Casually leaving interesting books lying around all the time is often the best way to get them enthused without pressuring them.

Playing to learn

Learning might be boring, but not when you are playing and learning at the same time! This is a very common trick among parents because it works wonders. If you want to help your children have fun and learn while at it, we found an interesting article about this topic.

Just click on the link and read more: http://www.parentscanada.com/baby/playing-to-learn

…or continue reading it here, we’ve added the content of the article below.

Playing to learn

By ParentsCanada staff on September 09, 2013

Playing is what kids do best, and it’s a good thing, too, considering play is instrumental in your child’s development. So this year, as you start your holiday shopping, keep that in mind. Toys should be fun, but also contribute to intellectual, sensory and behavioural growth.

0 to 6 months

Does a baby really need toys?
Yes! Look for items that entertain the eyes, ears and hands.

  • Go with simplicity. Babies don’t need complicated toys that will be frustrating. Look for simple items.
  • Get colourful. Newborns enjoy colours, especially ones that have high contrast.
  • Add music. Music is soothing, especially for the youngest of kids. Search out items with fun playtime music, as well as calming bedtime tunes.
  • Offer hand-helds. Grasping items is an early motor skill that needs nurturing. Have plenty of teething rings, cloth books and rattles to play with.

6 to 12 months

Watch out! Your baby is going to be on the move. Look for toys that encourage activity.

  • Appeal to touch. Little ones love different textures and shapes. Invest in crinkle books, rattles and toys with buttons to push.
  • Get active. Toys that encourage rolling, crawling and (yikes!) walking are a great idea.
  • Build it up. To develop fine motor skills, find items that are stackable, like blocks, nesting cups and stacking rings.
  • Wheel around. For some reason, kids love wheels. Provide cars, trucks and pull-toys. It gets kids active and starts to spark imagination. Note: avoid mini-cars. They are too small for this age.

 

12 to 18 months

It’s all about the rewards. At this age, kids love cause and effect items. Look for toys that provide a goal.

  • Sort it out. Shape sorting toys are always a big hit. Look for puzzle-style shape sorters, or toys that ask children to identify shapes and push correct buttons.
  • Be safe. With more independent play comes the need to be extra careful with toys. Make sure there are no small pieces or sharp edges. Keep an eye on your toy box for broken toys.
  • Get wet. Water is really entertaining for little ones. Simply washing their hands can be a source of excitement. Build on this by offering fun bath toys that squirt, pour, float and sink.

18 to 24 months

Let’s pretend. Your child’s imagination kicks into high gear at this age. Look for toys that encourage the creative mind.

  • Dress up. Hats, shoes and funny dress-up clothing are simple, but entertaining “toys”. As parents, you’ll have to wear many silly clothes during this time.
  • Act it out. Dolls, stuffed animals and other action figures are the perfect way to play makebelieve. Play kitchens, toolboxes and houses can also build a creative imagination.
  • Begin with ABCs. Yes, your child might be a little young to start reading, but toys that show the alphabet can give them a head start when it comes to letter recognition. It can’t hurt!
  • Be puzzling. Help out those problem-solving skills with large, simple puzzles. Be patient and let your toddler work at it. Offer help if frustration sets in.

 

Improving Kids’ Social Skills

A child is comfortable at home, but soon he will want to explore the world beyond a familiar climate. He will discover new social groups in which he will interact with other people. How do you make sure his social experiences are harmonious and pleasant? By developing and improving your child’s social skills!

If you want to know more about how to improve the social skills of your child, here is a link we recommend:
http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/improving-kids-social-skills/

As always, we have added the content of this article below.

Improving Kids’ Social Skills

Learn about the social milestones your child should have at different ages and the activities that can help enhance social development.
By Cheryl Lock

Not all kids need help with the same social skills, and what your child needs practice with could vary, depending on her age. “It’s important to know the normal developmental skills appropriate for different age groups so you can determine where the help is needed,” says Susan Diamond, M.A., a speech-language pathologist and author of Social Rules for Kids. The proper social skills that need to be taught can be divided into three stages: determining the social skills that need development, figuring out ways to teach the skills, and reinforcing lessons with the right resources. We’ll take you through all three stages and offer examples on how a child struggling with general shyness and social anxiety can become a friendly kid who’s comfortable and ready to handle any social situations.

Determining the Stages of Social Development

In general, kids will have developed certain social skills and social cues by these ages:

  • 2- to 3-year-olds: able to seek attention from others, initiate social contact with others both verbally (saying “Hi” and “Bye”) and physically, look at a person who’s talking, have the ability to take turns talking, and laugh at silly objects and events.
  • 3- to 4-year-olds: are able to take turns when playing games, treat a doll or stuffed animal as though it’s alive, and initiate verbal communication with actual words.
  • 4- to 5-year-olds: are able to show more cooperation with children, use direct requests (like “Stop”), are more prone to tattling, and pretend to be Mom or Dad in fantasy play.
  • 5- to 6-year-olds: are able to please their friends, say “I’m sorry,” “Please,” and “Thank you,” understand bad words and potty language, are more strategic in bargaining, play competitive games, and understand fair play and good sportsmanship.
  • 6- to 7-year-olds: are able to empathize with others (like crying at sad things), are prone to sharing, use posture and gestures, wait for turns and are better losers and less likely to place blame, joke more and listen to others tell their points of view, and maintain and shift/end topics appropriately. At this age, however, they still can’t understand the clear difference between right and wrong, and may not take direction well.

Improving Social Development

Playdates are a crucial part of growing up, but kids with social issues can have a hard time making plans. “Having a playdate is a great way to introduce your child to the concept of using rules when a friend comes over and to teach him how to be polite to guests,” Diamond says. Discuss ahead of time any situation that could be uncomfortable. “Write a plan beforehand. Go over all the different things the kids can do together, and then have your kid offer his guest three activities to pick from. Have them take turns picking activities from there, to avoid fights and to help teach compromise,” Diamond says. “Talk about what you think will happen, what could possibly happen. You can even role-play and practice greetings and manners. If it’s necessary, write a script to help reduce your child’s stress.”

To enhance your child’s social development further, Lawrence Balter, Ph.D., child psychologist and parenting expert, suggests the four strategies below.

  • Teach empathy: Run through different scenarios by asking your child how other people might feel when certain things happen, and substitute different situations each time.
  • Explain personal space: Tell your child that it’s important for everyone to have some personal space to feel comfortable, and practice acceptable ways to interact with someone during playtime.
  • Practice social overtures: Teach kids the proper way to start a conversation, get someone’s attention, or join a group of kids who are already playing together. These are all situations that can be discussed and brainstormed at the dinner table, or in the car on the way to school or activities.
  • Go over taking turns: Sit with your child for at least an hour a day and play with him to explain what it means to wait, take turns, and share.

Reinforcing Specific Social Skills

Activities and games can provide additional help in developing specific skills, and you can reinforce your child’s social development and interaction by playing The Name Game and Follow the Leader. Researchers Sandra Sandy and Kathleen Cochran developed The Name Game to help young children learn the importance of getting someone’s attention before speaking. Have kids sit in a circle and give one kid a ball. Ask him to name another child in the circle, and roll the ball to that child. The recipient then takes his turn, naming another child and rolling the ball, and so on. The classic Follow the Leader game teaches kids about taking turns and practicing patience. Designate either yourself or your child as the leader, and have the follower(s) mimic the leader’s actions.

Dr. Diamond recommends these other activities for recognizing particular social cues:

  • For nonverbal skills: Help kids recognize facial expressions and body language by watching kid-friendly TV shows with the sound off and observe what characters are doing and what certain movements might mean. (Just make sure to follow the media guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests that kids watch TV for a maximum of two hours a day.) “Predict what you think they’re saying, and really start [observing] facial gestures,” Diamond says. “You can also look through magazines and make collages with different facial expressions, and talk about what the people in those photos might be saying.”
  • For tone: To help kids differentiate a range of tones, “use a tape recorder and record different emotions in your voice and ask your child what they are, then explain how meaning changes with voice change,” Diamond recommends. For example, try recording phrases like “I’m angry!” in a loud, empathic voice, and “I feel so sad” in a soft, low, dejected voice.
  • For attention span: If your child has trouble staying on point, pick a topic and say three sentences — two related to the topic and one random. Then ask your child to pick the sentence that’s off-topic. For example, bring up the family dog. Talk about how long he played outside today and what he did at the dog park, and then say something about the weather. Ask your kid to differentiate between the different sentences. “Also, at the dinner table, have your kid keep track of how many times the topic changes during dinner,” Diamond suggests.

There are plenty of good apps available that reinforce social skills. “Model Me Going Places” allows kids to look at photos of other children modeling appropriate behavior in certain situations (the hairdresser, doctor, playground), “Responding Social Skills” teaches kids how to respond to others and how to understand others’ feelings, and “Small Talk” presents conversation fillers for awkward social moments. But if your child still seems to have difficulty keeping up with the skills she should be developing for her age group, it may be time to give her a little help. “Some children have problems with impulse control and self regulation; some have a problem with processing information,” Dr. Balter says. “These issues can lead to [kids] having awkward interactions with peers.” So if social issues cause your child fear or make him feel isolated, seek help from your pediatrician or another child expert, such as a therapist.