Toddler Time

Toddler Time! December 2014

 

What can we learn from our toddlers?

 

Our Toddlers live in the moment.  What’s happening right now is the only thing that matters. What would happen if we took a moment to view our lives from their perspective?  Could you stop in the middle of dishes to read a story? Or giggle at cartoons first thing in the morning instead of reading emails?  How about play with dinosaurs instead of sorting through the mail? These things seem really small and maybe insignificant, but as our lives become more hectic our little ones start to feel left out or better yet left alone.  Taking out time each day to spend with them is just as important as teaching them right from wrong. By doing this you are showing them how special they really are. Make sure that when you time playing with your child you are not giving instructions and don’t just sit on the sidelines. Get involved doing exactly what they are doing! Show them just how important they really are. It only takes a few minutes, but it makes a big difference in their lives.

Toddler Time

Toddler Time! October 2014

 

Advantages to Unstructured Play

 

Sometimes walking into a preschool classroom it can seem a little loud and busy. It is important to look closely. The activity that seems a little unstructured is done by design. When we give children in our classroom the chance to explore, play and inspect with no direction, only stepping in to answer questions or intervene if necessary we are actually helping provide them the opportunity to improve on their cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative and linguistic skills.

 

Cognitive skills are shaped by problem solving and decision making. Linguistic skills are shaped by children using language together when they play. Social and Emotional skills are worked when children work through disagreements. Physical skills are continuously developed when playing (they never choose to sit still).  Creative skills are pushed and developed when they create their own stories or ideas of play. The possibilities to shape development are endless. We only limit the children when they are made to sit and listen to what we want to show them and while at times it is necessary to do so, the best environment for their development is created during unstructured play.

Toddler Time

Toddler Time- Sept 2014

 

Why Teach Baby Sign Language?

As parents we hear about many new trends claiming to be vital in giving our little ones a step up educationally. It can be difficult to navigate between what truly is important and what is just a gimmick. Some of you may feel that Baby Sign Language is just a new fad, however that is not the case.

Baby Sign Language is not just a valuable tool in communication with infants and toddlers. The benefits go far beyond just communication. Baby Sign Language has been shown to encourage early speech, improve reading skills, reduce temper tantrums, and help to encourage self esteem.

Baby Sign Language helps toddlers understand the idea of speech at an earlier age. They are encouraged to speak by understanding that their needs can be expressed, understood and met, in most cases, immediately. They are also encouraged by the bond and security formed knowing that their words are important to people around them.

Not only does Baby Sign Language encourage early speech but it also helps children learn to read at an earlier age. By using signs, children learn to associate symbols with words. They will begin to associate printed letters into words at an earlier age because this type of word association is not new to them. It forms a bridge, crossing the gap between letters and spoken words. Research shows that children who know sign language also tend to have larger vocabularies and perform better in school.

Most parents would agree that the majority of their toddler’s frustration is stemmed from the inability to communicate. Baby signs can help alleviate the frustration and build confidence in their child’s communication skills and help parents understand what their child wants or needs.

Most importantly by teaching your child Baby Sign Language you are helping to create a significant bond formed by your child knowing you value their thoughts at an earlier age. When you view their words as important so will they, which results in higher self esteem and a greater sense of self confidence as they grow.

Toddler Time

Toddler Time! August 2014

 

Why do our toddlers crave routines and repetition?

 

 

Toddlers love to sing the same song or read the same story over and over and over.  To parents it can become tedious to read the same story or do the same thing each day but for toddlers the benefits are tremendous.

 

Routines provide a sense of predictability in a child’s ever changing environment. Toddlers are rapidly developing. With all the changes happening within their little bodies the routine and repetition provide the security that they need. 

 

Routines help to establish boundaries and teach good habits. They can also help eliminate power struggles and give your toddler the confidence to take charge when they know what comes next! Be sure to include space in your daily routines for exploration and creativity. You should also give many opportunities for your child to make choices for themselves. This will help your toddler grow into a secure, confident young adult with a great sense of their personal likes and dislikes as well as tons of healthy habits to help them grow.

 

Toddler Time

Toddler Time- July 2014

Sensory Development in Toddlers

Often parents think of sensory development as an infant thing.  Infants do take in an awful lot of sensory information as they begin processing this information and learning the environment around them.  This process continues throughout the toddler stage and is just as important at this age as it was then.

Sensory development is instrumental in language development. Toddlers are beginning to connect images with words. The senses allow this to happen. Without sticking their hand in mud or paint, how would a toddler know what is meant by the word ‘squishy?”  Without listening to different musical instruments how can you accurately describe the difference between the sound of a piano and the sound of a drum?

Sensory development is also crucial in helping a toddler achieve body awareness. They organize the sensations they feel when pushing or pulling, balancing and moving weighted objects. Without these activities children are not able to accurately identify how their body moves in space and will not be able to organize their thoughts into an accurate picture of themselves and their body.

So while all these activities may look like play there is some serious learning going on! You may be tempted to stop you little one from jumping in that puddle or trying to balance on the raised ledge of  a flower bed, but just remember all of the important things they are learning!

Toddler Time

Toddler Time- June 2014

Positive Discipline Techniques for Toddlers

It is important to remember that the purpose of discipline is learning.  Discipline is not about punishing a child. It is about teaching them the appropriate way to behave. There are a few things to remember to help parents keep things positive and help focus on learning.

  • Say yes and avoid the word no. Instead of telling your child what not to do, tell them what they can do.   Try to remember that children are learning to play. It is our job to show them how.  Instead of saying “don’t throw the blocks” say “we can build a tower with the blocks” or “can you stack the blocks?”  Make sure that you give lots of praise when they do.
  • There are time when you have to tell your child no. Make sure to give short simple explanations so that they begin to understand why that behavior is not appropriate. For example instead of telling your child “don’t hit your brother” you can say “You should not hit your brother. It hurts when you hit and it makes your brother sad”
  • Make sure to have clear expectations or rules and give numerous reminders of those expectations or rules before your child has a chance to break them.  Make sure your expectations are based on your child’s development. Expecting your curious two year old to stay next or hold your hand to you at the store may be asking too much of them. It would be more appropriate to have them in a cart or stroller and take away the temptation of wandering off on an adventure.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Too many rules are hard to remember so don’t go overboard. Set a few rules, but make them count. For example; be safe, be kind and be respectful. These three rules are easy to remember and can cover almost anything that come up from preschool through to college if need be.
Toddler Time

Toddler Time! May 2014

Fun in the Sun Tips for Toddlers

We all need our sun (vitamin D) to stay healthy but did you know that just a few sunburns under the age of 18 can dramatically increase the risk for skin cancer later in life. Here are a few tips for keeping your toddler (or anyone) protected when playing in the sun.

  1. Lather on the sunscreen. Use at least an SPF 30 Broad Spectrum sunscreen every time you are in the sun. You should apply the sunscreen at least 20 before exposure and reapply every 2hrs. For anyone looking for a more natural approach to sunscreen, try one that has zinc or titanium as the active ingredient.  These are also great for sensitive skin. Make sure you purchase a new sunscreen each year because the active ingredients loose most of their potency with in one/two years.
  2. Avoid the strongest rays of the day. The sun is overhead between 10am and 4pm so you should limit your child’s exposure during this time. A large umbrella can provide lots of shade. Also, pop-up tents can loads of fun for toddlers while providing the shade they need.
  3. Wear protective clothing! Hats and sunglasses are not only adorable on little heads, but also very practical for protection against the sun.
  4. Use caution around water sand and snow! These reflective surfaces magnify the UV rays. It is also good to remember that UV rays travel through the clouds so your toddler can get burned even on cloudy overcast days. It’s good practice to check the UV index before going out.
  5. Be on the lookout for medication that increases sensitivity to the sun.
  6. As always set a good example by following these tips yourself.  You are your child’s biggest influence!
Toddler Time

Toddler Time! April 2014

Language Developmental Milestones

A common concern with many parents is in their child’s language development. Here are some developmental guidelines given by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association that can help you navigate language development in those toddler years!

Between 12-24 months

Hearing and Understanding

Points to body parts when asked

  • Follows simple commands and understands simple questions (“Roll the ball,” “Kiss      the baby,” “Where’s your shoe?”)
  • Listens to simple stories, songs and rhymes
  • Points to pictures in a book when named

Talking

  • Says more words each month.
  • Uses one / two word phrases (“Go bye-bye,” “no juice”)
  • Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

Between 24-36 Months

Hearing and Understanding

Understands differences in meaning (go/stop, in/on, big/little)

  • Follows two requests (“Get the book and put it on the table”)
  • Can listen and enjoy stories for longer periods of time

Talking

Has a word for almost anything

  • Uses two / three words  phrases
  • Uses k ,g, f, t, d and n sounds
  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time
  • Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them

 

Please keep in mind that all children develop at different times and at different rates. If you feel that your child is not developing appropriately you should talk with your child’s Pediatrician about your concerns.

Toddler Time

Toddler Time! March 2014

Ways to help Tame the Toddler Tantrum

 

  1. Identify the cause.

Temper tantrums seem to come out of nowhere and can be stressful and overwhelming, not to mention tiresome. Most of the time identifying the cause of the tantrum can minimize its effect and help you to keep your cool. Is your child craving some one on one time, could they feel worried or anxious and out of control or are they in need of some space to make choices and gain independence.  By taking the time to try to identify the cause before you react, you gain composure and perspective, thus putting yourself in a better mindset to handle your toddler.

 

  1. Choose your battles.

If it doesn’t affect your child’s emotional or physical well being you may want to let it slide. Going to the grocery store in rain boots and a pink tutu may not be your idea of fun but does it really matter?

 

  1. Give options.

Find ways to give your toddler choices throughout the day. Would you like juice or water?  Boots or running shoes? Green shirt or Yellow shirt? Giving your toddler some control over their world will help alleviate some of their stress and empower them.

 

  1. Give it time.

Allow some extra time in the mornings for your toddler to do things themselves. Toddlers need to feel empowered and develop some confidence. They may put the shoes on the wrong feet, their shirt on backwards and take an extra 20 minutes to get out of the door, but in the end you are teaching them how good it feels to be able to do things for themselves.

Toddler Time

Toddler Time! February 2014

 

Toddler Time Change

 

With daylight savings around the corner, we thought we’d pass along a few tips that can help your toddler adjust in record time. (Sorry AZ families, we know you don’t follow the time change, but we hope you can find some useful tips for any other time that your toddler goes through a change!)

Make sure to start off small.  You can slowly change your child’s sleep habits by getting them to sleep a litter earlier each day for a few days ahead.

Once the time changes, you should gently push to keep your little one on schedule according to the clock. The more you stick to your routines, the faster your tot will adjust to a time change.

Our internal clocks seem to be set with the sun and it has a major role in the way our bodies function. Spend a lot of time outdoors early in the day when possible.  At bedtime, you can block out the sunlight coming into your child’s room by using blackout curtains or shades. This will help to keep out the sun and ease your tot into a nice sleeping pattern.

Time change is tough everyone, but even more so for little ones who don’t understand what the change is all about. Be patient and understanding if your toddler is a little cranky or clingy for a day or two.