Literacy and Young Children

 

One of the greatest gifts that a parent can give to a child is a love of reading.  Parents have the power to boost a child’s learning potential simply by making books an integral part of their lives.  Research has also shown that a child who has been read to at home and in preschool has a much larger vocabulary and is better prepared for Kindergarten.  Children who are exposed to reading also are more likely to do well in all facets of formal education.

 

From research we also know that children usually become good readers when they have an environment at home and at school where they are read to and where they interact with adults about books. Reading can be the base of a lifelong passion, a love that can enrich children’s personal and social lives.

 

 The following are some tips to make reading a fun and enjoyable experience for a child:

  • Read aloud and with expression to your child.
  • Introduce the book to arouse the child’s interest. Explain the words “author” and “illustrator.”
  • Reinforce key vocabulary words.
  • Children learn with repetition and seem to never tire hearing the same story over and over again.  Keep reading their favorite books!
  • Encourage your child to ask questions. Point to a particular page and ask the child what they think is happening. By asking questions and involving the child in the reading process you are keeping them actively engaged during reading.
  • Adjust the amount of time you spend reading to the child’s attention span.
  • By reading a book yourself, you are setting a very important example and showing a child that you find enjoyment in reading books. 

 As a parent, reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do to prepare him with a foundation for academic readiness!

Whether your child has already started for the 2014 school year or is starting in the upcoming weeks, there are some great tips below that we can all learn from!

 

 

The transition from summer fun into the more structured school day environment can be challenging for both your child and you. With planning, you can prepare your child for the first day of school and be instrumental in getting the school year off to a successful start.

The following are some simple suggestions from the Department of Education and Dr. Gail Gross PhD. Ed.D that may help ease the transition from summer to school:

Before School Starts

It’s a good idea to take your child in for a physical, dental, hearing and eye exam before school starts. If your child will be participating in a sports activity, your family doctor may have to sign a release form to permit your child to participate.

During the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce a school year bedtime. Begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they’ll need to rise when school begins.

Buy school supplies early. Shopping early often gives the best deals on supplies and ensures that the “Perfect Book bag” is still in stock. Some states offer a “sales tax holiday” for a few days each year. This means that certain products won’t be taxed during a set period of time. If your state offers a sales tax holiday, you may be able to save money on clothes, shoes, and other supplies. Shopping for school supplies is also a great way to teach your child the value of giving to others. Have your child help you select and fill a book bag for children in a homeless shelter.

Take charge of the TV. Too much television or mobile devices cuts into important activities in a child’s life, such as reading, playing with friends or talking with family members. Start limiting your child’s TV now before school starts and you stand a better chance of keeping control once the school year begins.

If attending a new school, try to visit your child’s school at least one week in advance. Let your child get familiar with classrooms, hallways and important offices such as the principal and the nurse. If possible, talk to the teacher, the nurse, the guidance counselor and the principal in advance. Show both your interest and your goodwill. Tell them of any concerns you have in regard to your children’s health, and apprise them of any learning problems in advance.

Freeze a few extra meals or plan some easy to throw together crock-pot meals. This simple step will give you more time in the evening to go through all those countless papers that are sent home from the school and it will also give you extra time to spend with your child to see how they are settling into their school or classroom.

Plan Healthy Breakfasts and Lunches. As you prepare to send your children back to school, remember that nutrition is an important factor in academic performance. Studies have shown that children who eat healthful, balanced breakfasts and lunches are more alert throughout the school day and earn higher grades than those who have an unhealthy diet.

A ‘safety first’ attitude is a very important part of preparing for the first day of school. You want your children to know traffic safety as well as physical safety. Young children should know their name, how to spell it, their telephone number and the number of a safe and responsible adult that is designated by their parents. Teach your child the proper way in advance to deal with bullies by reporting them to either a teacher or counselor.

 

Don’t forget to talk with your children about their feeling or concerns they may be having about the new school year. Ask your child what you can do and what they can do to make this first day go smoothly. Working together and in partnership with your child will likely have a smooth outcome and they will go happily off to school.

 

Growing Independence in Young Children

It is the goal of every parent to have a healthy, happy, self-assured, and independent child.

Parents also want to create a home environment that lays the foundation for creating this type of child.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics there are several steps parents can take to help their child develop independence which can lead to creating a self-assured, happy, and independent child:

  • Open and honest communication with your child is important and can lead to a lifelong closeness with your child.
  • Routines and responsibilities will let your child know what to expect. When a rule is broken, a natural consequence needs to follow. Set Limits. When children do something against the rules, explain simply and in a few words what they did wrong.  Children need to be told the consequences of continuing this negative behavior.   For example: If your child rides a bike without a helmet, the bike is off limits for a day or two. When your child won’t share a toy, that toy can’t be used for the rest of the day.
  •  Learning how to be a good friend is also an important social skill you can teach your child. Your child is starting to explore the world outside your home. This is exciting, but can be scary! Children from 4 to 6 years old are beginning to develop their independence and form real friendships that can last a lifetime.
  • Create and Keep Routines. Teach about rules by setting up daily and nightly routines. Children do best when they know what to expect.
  • Schedule specific times for TV, video games, and use of the computer. When you know what your child is watching, you can avoid violence and other unacceptable content. Try to limit “total screen time” to no more than 2-3 hours a day.
  • Read at bedtime. This helps your child to settle down after a busy day and plants the seeds for a love of books.
  • Have meals together as much as possible. This is a great way to spend time together and share family traditions, while also teaching good eating habits and table manners.
  • Take Time to Talk and Listen to your child.  Children feel important when adults take the time to talk with them. Talking often, and about many things, helps them gain self-confidence. Ask about friendships and the activities that your child enjoys. Talk about your own best and worst experiences. Let your child know that it’s OK to have and talk about negative feelings. Share the best and hard parts of your day. This teaches your child that we all have ups and downs.
  • Assign Responsibility to your child.  When young children copy everyday household tasks, they are really learning how to contribute. With your support, tasks will soon be done with few reminders. As children grow older you can assign simple task such as putting away their toys, setting the table, taking out the trash, making their bed, and/or feeding the pet.  Your child’s self-esteem will grow when you acknowledge their help with an assigned task.

There are few things more rewarding than knowing you are helping to lay the foundation for your child’s future success as an independent and well adjusted adult.  Unfortunately, there is no exact blueprint for each child, but the above suggestions will certainly get you on the right path.

Getting Your Child to Eat more Fruit and Vegetables

Recently the government’s new guideline for healthy eating has a dinner plate divided into sections.  Half the plate should be fruits and vegetables.  Yikes—half the plate fruit and vegetables?  Yes, half the plate.  Not half the plate with fried chicken and the other half mashed potatoes with gravy?  Nope.   How can a busy working parent get less fast food and more fruit and vegetables into their child?  It won’t be easy, but if it makes for a healthier child- it will be worth the struggle. The following are suggestions that might make it easier for you to get your children to eat their vegetables:

 

  • Limit fast food.  Plan your meals in advance so that you don’t have to rely on the drive-through on your way from work.  If having to plan a week in advance is too difficult-start with two or three days of meal plans.  Frozen meals prepared for those very busy days can be a life saver and give you time to toss a salad.
  • Grocery shop with your children.  Let the children touch and smell the fruits and vegetables.  Children are more likely to accept a new food if they helped select it in the market.
  • Cook with your children.  Have the children wash the fruits and vegetables and even add a little butter or seasoning to the vegetables.  Just like selecting the food at the market, children also are more likely to eat something they helped prepare.
  • Have a Vegetarian night.  There are lots of great tasting vegetarian meals on Pinterest and in cookbooks—find one that is high in protein and one that would suit all members of your family.
  • Hide the veggies in foods.  Chances are your children eat fruit, but vegetables are your struggle.  A morning or afternoon smoothie or the new juicing experience not only tastes great, but is full of fruits and vegetables!  Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry’s wife) and author of “Deceptively Delicious” have many wonderful recipes in her book which are full of hidden vegetables.  (Two easy child-friendly vegetable/fruit juice recipes are at the end of this post.)
  • Choose healthy snacks for children such as fresh fruit and vegetables with tasty dips. Keep healthy snacks well-stocked at home, readily available and easily accessible for children to grab. Save cookies and other sugarcoated treats for a sporadic sweet treat or special occasions.
  • Don’t overcook vegetables. Steaming or microwaving retains more nutrients than boiling.  Stir frying vegetables are also a great way to prepare vegetables and cook up very quickly.
  • Keep trying different fruits and vegetables until you have found several your child will eat.  Don’t give up!  Children tend to eat veggies and dip, so keep some handy in the refrigerator.
  • Finally, the most important way to get your kids to eat veggies is to eat them yourself. Eating lots of vegetables as part of your family’s lifestyle will produce children who are vegetable eaters; likewise, if you don’t incorporate them into your own diet, you can’t really expect that your kids will want to eat them.

 

Apple and orange juice

  • 2 apples
  • 2 oranges

Juice the apples. Mix with orange juice squeezed using a traditional, non-electric hand juicer — the kind where you halve an orange or lemon and place it on and squeeze. Citrus fruits are not meant to be juiced in some juicers but will easily yield their own juice. If your juicer can tolerate citrus fruits, juice away! Mix together and serve. Makes approximately 1 8oz serving. This is a good juice for beginners because it has common, beloved ingredients. Another easy variation: juice 2 carrots instead of the apples for mixing with the orange juice.

– See more at: http://www.inhabitots.com/rev-up-your-juicer-and-try-6-kid-friendly-homemade-fruit-and-veggie-juice-recipes/#sthash.BFVQyWRI.dpuf

 

Carrot Pear Orange

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 pear
  • 1 orange

Juice the carrots and pear in the juicer. Juice the orange using a traditional, non-electric hand juicer unless your juicer can handle citrus fruits. Combine and mix well.

– See more at: http://www.inhabitots.com/rev-up-your-juicer-and-try-6-kid-friendly-homemade-fruit-and-veggie-juice-recipes/#sthash.BFVQyWRI.dpuf

Spring Fitness

For most of the country this has been an unusually long and difficult winter, but spring finally has arrived!  With the warmer weather comes the opportunity for children to get outside and exercise more.  Children and adults can both benefit from regular exercise.  According to many leading experts, including the American Pediatric Association, The National Association for Sport and Physical Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regular exercise in children can result in:

Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, children who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from enjoying a rigorous game of tag to studying for a test.

 

Parents can encourage their child to stay physically active by:

 

  • Setting a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself.
  • Making physical activity part of your family’s daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together.
  • Giving your children equipment that encourages physical activity.
  • Taking young people to places where they can be active, such as public parks, community baseball fields or basketball courts.
  • Being positive about the physical activities in which your child participates and encouraging them to be interested in new activities.
  • Making physical activity fun.  Fun activities can be anything your child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. Activities can range from team sports or individual sports to recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities or free-time play.
  • Instead of watching television after dinner, encouraging your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends and family, such as walking, playing chase or riding bikes.
  • Be safe! Always provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads or knee pads and ensure that activity is age-appropriate.

 

Enjoy the beautiful spring weather and get outside with your child and “get

Healthy Eating

 

The New England Journal of Medicine released on January 30, 2014 its latest study on childhood obesity.  They have stated that children overweight by age five are more likely to be overweight by the age of 14, and subsequently into adulthood.  This report keeps a spotlight on the health and well being of children.  Although the report takes into account genetics, economic background and lifestyles it is also an awaking to parents who believe that their child “will just grow out of it.”

 

Many other well known health organization such as The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also states that childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that parents often feel overwhelmed by the problem and are not sure where to start.  However, they state there is a great deal that parents can do to promote healthy active living and create a home environment that encourages and supports healthy choices.  As a family you can choose one, two, three or all of the following goals to help support healthy living in your home and as a way to establish good health habits for your child to carry into their adulthood:

  • Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day
  • Get at least one hour daily of physical activity
  • Limit screen time to less than 2 hours a day
  • Limit consumption of sugar sweetened beverages
  • Eat breakfast
  • Switch to low-fat dairy products
  • Regularly eat family meals together
  • Limit fast food, take out and eating out
  • Prepare foods at home as a family
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium
  • Eat a diet high in fiber
January Healthy Tips

Fun in the Winter Sun

“But, baby its cold outside.” It may be cold outside, but it’s just as important for children to get physical activity during the winter as it is during the warmer months. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that physical activity should be a healthy part of your family’s routine throughout the year. And safety should always be a central part of your children’s recreational fun. Read more