School Readiness-It is more than Academics!

How to Prepare Your Child for School

Is your child nearing the end of preschool years? Are you beginning to think about kindergarten school readiness? It is great that a child knows the alphabet, recognizes numbers up to 20 and may even read a little bit, but these skills are of secondary importance in the eyes of many kindergarten teachers. There are many other competencies that are essential for school success including the ability to: separate from parents, think critically, self-regulate, demonstrate a positive self-esteem and exhibit positive social emotional skills.

The academic foundation can easily be provided at home and through early education experiences. The other competencies must be intentionally taught by parents, educators and child care providers! The best strategy parents can use to develop these skills is to set aside time to interact with a child. A parent who makes time to talk is certainly building solid oral-language skills but also sending a clear message that the child is important; a great boost to self-esteem! A parent who engages children in daily activities can build academic skills as well as; the ability to listen, to be independent, to work well with others, manage strong emotions, solve problems, and create a love for learning. Therefore; whenever possible, include your child in regular household tasks like cooking, laundry, shopping, setting a table, working in the garden and exploring the community. Positive relationships, experiences and interactions with others are the true foundations of school readiness and success!

 

Negative Words

How many times do you use the word “Don’t”?

Children’s behavior can be challenging!  Parents must remember that children do not have all the skills and strategies they need to handle demands and conflicts.  Many times parents find themselves telling children what NOT to do instead of what to do. Teaching children how to communicate his/her needs is an important part of parenting.

Tips to Help Children Do the Right Thing

  1. Rephrase your language and avoid negative words like don’t and stop. Simply tell the child what to do instead by using language that focuses on the behavior you want to see. For example, say to the child: “use walking feet” or “stay with me” instead of “don’t run”. Ask your child to “use an inside voice” or “talk so I can understand you” instead of “stop whining” or “don’t yell”.
  2. Give clear and simple directions. State the expectation.
  3. Prepare a child for a transition. Give notice when a child must stop one activity and move to the next.  For example say: “Playtime is almost over then we are going to have dinner together”. Teach the child that a timer or music will be a signal to change an activity and use this method consistently.
  4. Catch the child being good and praise the positive behavior you observe frequently. Everyone appreciates encouragement.
  5. Teach a child to verbally identify the emotion he/she is feeling and the strategies to help deal with the emotion. A child needs to know that asking for help, waiting a short time, trading, taking turns, and sharing can be solutions to a problem.
  6. Be aware of your Be sure to model and demonstrate behaviors you want your children to learn. Look at yourself in the mirror when you are disciplining your child. Check to see if your face and tone of voice are teaching and demonstrating acceptable and appropriate behavior!

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.

Picky Eaters

You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out a way for your child to eat as healthy as your friend’s children do.  (Steve Wiens from his blog The Actual Pastor)

Ellyn Satter, MS RD LCSW BCD, a researcher and practitioner in the field of pediatric feeding practices, explains that both parents and children have their own “jobs” to do when it comes to eating. Parents are responsible for providing healthy foods for meals and snacks and children are responsible for what and how much they eat.

There are a few things parents should avoid when trying to encourage a child to learn healthy eating behavior:  do not force a child to eat and do not nag or make a deal about eating.

When a parent forces a child to eat the child often eats less. Forcing a child to eat also teaches a child to rely on others to tell them how much to eat and what they are feeling. This does not lead to healthy eating habits or good self-esteem. In fact, some research has shown that forcing children to eat actually can make picky eating behavior worse (Sanders, Patel, Le Grice, & Shepherd, 1993).

Nagging or making deals with your child don’t work in the long run either. Children who learn to make deals about eating learn to make deals and ask for rewards for doing other things!

Tips for Parents to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

  • Track your child’s food sensitivities and keep them in mind when preparing meals.
  • Avoid preparing special meals for your child but make sure that there is something he likes on the plate at each meal.
  • Provide toddler size portions of the food the family is eating. Over time, these choices will become familiar.
  • Involve your child in preparing food. Handling, smelling, and touching the food helps your child get comfortable with the idea of eating it.
  • Offer new kinds of foods frequently. Children may need to be offered a new food as many as 10-15 times before they will eat it.
  • Offer safe “finger foods” that your child can feed herself and have healthy foods like raisins, grapes and cheerios available if s/he gets hungry.

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.

 

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!…Or is it the Most Stressful Time of the Year for Most?”

The holiday season is here and it brings a recipe for stress and sensory overload; especially for children with special needs! The shopping, decorating, lights, noise, cooking, visiting, crowds and changes in routines can sabotage even the best family plans and expectations!

Tips to Reduce Anxiety, Manage Stress and Build Self-esteem and Help Make the Season “Merry and Bright”

  1. Keep routines and schedules. Children do better when they know what to expect, have plenty of sleep and eat nutritious snacks and meals; and so will you!
  2. Slow down and give everyone a little extra time. No one does well under stress!
  3. Leave children at home during shopping outings! You will accomplish much more, your children will be happier.
  4. Limit children’s time with electronics and provide opportunities to play outside, exercise and participate in relaxing family outings.
  5. Set reasonable and realistic expectations ahead of time for gifts and activities. It reduces anxiety, disappointment and stress.
  6. Allow children to participate in decorating and accept the participation as perfect and wonderful!
  7. Be flexible and remember that a few special moments can be remembered for a lifetime.
  8. Do not worry about things you can’t control; especially the opinions and demands of others!
  9. Focus on the family and not the bling; you will be happier for it!
  10. Most importantly; take good care of yourself!

Follow these tips and you and your family will have the chance to enjoy the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”!

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.

Talking is Teaching

Children’s language & literacy skills are closely related to academic success.  If all parents and caregivers realized how much they can benefit children’s lives by talking, reading and singing to them every day, they would take advantage of every opportunity!  The more words a young child hears, the better prepared s/he will be to learn.

Interacting with children supports early learning and development, and strengthens the parent-child bond. Children who are securely attached to adults show better physical and mental health, including more positive emotions, and have an easier time forming relationships with adults and peers.

Talking is teaching. During the first year of life, a baby’s language will develop faster than any other time. To make the most of this time, talk to your child about anything and everything. When you talk to your child-even if s/he can’t use words yet—they are learning and you are helping them become both smarter and happier.

Tips for Parents to Encourage Language Development

  • Make routines out of singing during everyday activities like bathing, eating and dressing.
  • Engage children in selecting favorite books and participate actively in story time
  • Show children the many ways reading and writing can be used in daily activities.
  • Respond to children-expand their ideas & language.
  • Provide experiences that expand vocabulary through walks and field trips.
  • Include new words in conversation.
  • Name objects & provide explanation.
  • Engage children in writing notes and creating shopping lists.
  • Limit TV and the use of technology.

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.

Raising a Smart and Happy Child

Modern technology has become an important part of life. Many young children know how to use an iPad, mobile device, and computer better than some adults! Parents find the child’s interest in technology useful and may be allowing access to these devices more than is developmentally appropriate.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day. You may wonder; why is there concern over the exposure to technology?

Between 0 and 2 years, infant’s brains triple in size and continue in a state of rapid development to 21 years of age. Early brain development is determined by environmental stimulation (or the lack of stimulation) where interconnections of neurons are made. These interconnections determine the speed and depth of learning. Stimulation that promotes learning and lays the foundation for successful development comes from human connections, touch, movement and nature. The use and attachment to technology is sedentary and promotes isolation.

To raise a smart and happy child substitute technology time with play time that provides interaction and engagement.

Tips for Raising a Smart and Happy Child

  • Take time to talk and surround the child with language. It promotes attachment, builds self-esteem, increase language skills and is crucial to development.
  • Read to your child. Reading remains the key to learning.
  • Play with your child. Play is essential for achieving developmental milestones, emotional wellness, builds resilience and helps manage stress.
  • Teach simple games. A child develops memory and focused attention. Games also teach important social skills like taking turns, waiting and sharing as she/he interacts with others.
  • Go outside and move. Nature encourages exploration, stimulation, curiosity and problem solving. Skill necessary to learning and development.

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.

 

Children’s Negative Behaviors

Many parents struggle with children’s negative behaviors. With the right skills and support, you don’t have to struggle anymore.

Young children learn how to behave by testing boundaries. An important goal for parents is to help children learn to identify appropriate behavior and self –control. This is not an easy task and takes commitment and fortitude!

Teaching positive behavior begins with setting limits and establishing consistent rules that are reinforced consistently. Appropriate behavior is also supported when parents establish routines and schedules. This will include regular hours for meals, naps, indoor and outdoor activities, bathing and bed time.

Teaching self-control is helping children to learn to control his/her actions. It begins with learning to make good choices. Often children become upset when their needs or wishes are not met immediately. Parents can teach children strategies to deal with this frustration. Guiding young children to use words to voice the frustration is a start; for example, teach the child to say, “I am mad! I want to have the _____ .” A parent can then guide the behavior by offering good choices. For example; help the child ask for the object, offer to trade, wait for a turn, or find something else to do while waiting. The support and guidance you provide the child will lead to more positive behavior and increased self-control.

To learn more about teaching positive behavior to young children; register for our workshop, “Who’s in Charge?” Call the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction center for more information 845-565-1162 extension 240.

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.