EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Archive for April 2011

 

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Today, Friday, April 22, 2011 is Earth Day.

Earth Day was officially founded in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, Wisconsin.  Currently over 200 million people in 140 nations around the world hold advocacy events on April 22nd each year to promote ecological responsibility and a better understanding of the effect we have, as a global population, on our planet.

Here are some ideas to celebrate Earth Day – everyday!  (Adapt to age and ability of your children.)
* Grow a garden.  Plant a tree.
*Explore a Farmer’s Market and ask questions about the plants, fruits and vegetables you see.
*Plan a healthy menu and discover how each food gets to the table:lettuce on table ←supermarket←transport system←farm field←seeds  (This summer check out The Erie County Fair’s fun education event for families: From Field to Table.)
*Hang a thermometer / wind sock at the window and track daily weather conditions.
*Set up a bird house and feeder in the yard. Monitor the seeds eaten, how many and what kinds of birds are attracted and what happens when seeds fall.
*Change standard light bulbs to energy savers and have a discussion why.
*Have a scavenger hunt (look for stones, grass, twigs, insects…) in many, different natural spaces i.e. field, park, creek bed, woods…  talk about the value of natural spaces.
*Make a big deal out of the importance of recycling, reducing and reusing – involve children.
*Walk, jog, bicycle and skate instead of driving – talk about pollution.
*Find fossils, paw prints and shells on water beds and beaches – life cycles are everywhere.
*Investigate, participate in and attend community events that support Earth Day.  Be a family sponsor.
*Go to the library or bookstore and select books with beautiful stories and pictures of the world and its marvelous inhabitants.

In addition to these ideas, www.chiff.com/society/go-green.htm has great “kid friendly” ideas and articles to investigate.

Children are who we are, they truly learn what they live.  At a very young age, they mimic our actions and start to follow our lead.  Make this a litter-free, recycling, reusing, go-green time in their lives. Talk about responsibility to our world and appreciation for what we have.   These will be life lessons.

“The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth… We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Chief Seattle, Suquamish Tribe

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Humor is a brain stimulator.  Babies smile and giggle while playing peek-a-boo and when you bark like a doggie or meow like a kitten for their amusement.  Toddlers think that funny hats and mixed up clothes are a riot. Now that they know language, they look for language to make sense.  When you tell a young child that the silly dog was hopping around the yard like a bunny and you said to that silly dog “Silly dog, you are not a hopping bunny.  You are a doggie, mister!”  they think you are the funniest person in the world and they will ask you to repeat this with all of the dramatic effects a million times.  

While preschoolers are really starting to “get it”, they will often laugh out of turn or at inappropriate things (they have a hard time not laughing at potty words).  Mixing fact and fiction results in both lots of fun and questioning looks.  Because preschoolers are starting to attach fun and amusement to people they think are fun or places they like to be, humor takes on a much more personal note.

Studies clearly point to humor and levity as healthy outlets and positive responses to a sometimes stressful world.  Laughing keeps us balanced.  People who are fun to be with make us feel better about ourselves when we are in their company.  If someone thinks we are fun to be around, we are flattered.

It really isn’t much different for children.  We like it when our children smile.  We love it when they laugh.  We can’t get enough of that “roll on the rug, throw their head back” abandon.  No matter what their age is, we encourage smiling and fun from very young ages.  Older infants and toddlers turn and smile at the camera without even being asked to.   Preschoolers can be quite the “hams” when it comes to showing off their teeth and their style!  The message is clear: humor is good for you.

What do your children think is fun or funny?  Here are some answers from little ones I know:

  • “Mommy.”
  • “The fish. You know, Nemo”
  • “Spiderman and Batman go with the cars.”
  • “It is funny when Claire’s mommy dropped the towel.”
  • “Dempsey (my silly oversized dog!)”
  • “Miss Z. was hilarious. (why?)    I don’t know.”
  • “It was so fun when the soccer ball went flying!”   (They are certainly not ready for Comedy Central, but they are stars of their own little shows!)

Getting the order of events right takes time.  Extending ideas and thoughts comes later.  Grammar tense is worked on.  But children light up when you recognize their delight and ask them to share it with you.  This is the message of value.  You value them, who they are and what they think.  You like it when they share funny stories with you.  You help them recall people and things that give them pleasure. You laugh with them and this brings you closer.   Humor is stimulating.  Humor is connections.

What do your children think is fun or funny?  Ask the questions and enjoy the answers!

“Knock, knock.”  “Who’s there?”  “Banana.”  “Banana who?”  “Banana Banana.”

“Knock, knock.”  “Who’s there?”  “Banana.”  “Banana who?”  “Banana Banana.”

“Knock, knock.”  “Who’s there?”   “Orange.”  “Orange who?”  “Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana?”

Kate Beale’s (age 5) favorite joke

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Children are nosey!

 Once infants have muscle strength to support their heads, all they do is swivel around to see what’s going on!  Bright colors, loud or musical sounds, quick movements and delicious smells cause a little one to squiggle their whole body just to get a better look.  This is the wonderful beginnings of curiosity!

Rolling over is a big deal, but when babies are actually sitting up and crawling around, the world opens up to them.  What fun!  And what an important time to pay close attention to what those nosey babies can get into.  Curiosity has taken over!

Lie on the floor next to your baby and literally see what she sees.  Every little piece of fuzz or thread on the carpet is exciting.  Every spot on the wall, outlet and floor length curtain calls her name.  Lamp and computer cords, papers on low table shelves, dropped pieces of food or boots & shoes look delicious.  Not to mention the bowl of Rover’s dog food and Whisker’s Meowmix!

Pick your purse up off the floor. Never keep medicine in a purse or bag where children can reach it.  Sometimes jackets get left or dropped on the floor.  Consider what you carry in your pockets.  These “pocket treasures” (coins, gum, etc…) can be dangerous to our little ones.  Buy outlet covers.  Sweep the kitchen floor (10 x a day!)  Pick up fallen paperclips, pens and odds & ends.  Babies are fast and you can’t believe what they get into and what they put into their mouths!

Now he can toddle and walk – yikes!  Once upright, children are like walking magnets; attracting everything!  “Child proofing” your home makes the difference between high anxiety and wonderful exploration.  Expect toddlers to discover delights in what we see every day and take for granted.  What we no longer find to be curious or interesting, toddlers are enchanted with.

Children are wired to use all of their senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing) in their quest to figure out their world.  In addition to the above precautions, consider these to keep children safe: 

  • Use cupboard and drawer clips for “locked” closure
  • Take treasured and fragile / easily broken trinkets and decorations off the tables and put them safely away
  • Keep cords and straps/strings out of reach and the bathroom door shut 
  • If toddlers are negotiating stairs, give them support but let them move their bodies independently with your watchful guide.  Climb steps directly behind them and teach children to “turn around” to go down feet first on their tummies.

While preschoolers and older children learn to create a “safety screen” to judge situations and toys (most of the time), little ones do not.  Make sure toys are in good repair without rough or broken pieces and be sure there are no choking hazards for little ones (an easy guide: if a toy or object fits through a toilet paper tube, it is too small for infants and toddlers to have).  Infants and toddlers need to be in an adult’s company at all times when they are outside.  Use straps in a stroller and always use a car seat to travel – even to the corner.

An exciting world + curious kids = the perfect pair!

 “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do”  Walt Disney

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

 
 

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Try to imagine the following…..

Two toddlers are squabbling over a favorite toy.  There is a lot of yelling from both of them.  They are engaged in sort of “tug of war” with the idea that the strongest one will win this battle and the toy will be theirs.  You run over to them because you know that sooner or later there will be pushing, possibly biting, crying and most likely: a broken toy. 

Change the above scenario to children fighting over a seat in the car, two preschoolers arguing over where the legos go on a tower, two young school-agers quarreling over one available swing, or two older school-agers in a heated disagreement in a soccer game.

In any of these scenes one or both of these children are yours or one is your child and the other is your child’s friend.

When we see our children, at any age, involved in a conflict, it is natural to want to “run & rescue”.  It is also natural to be annoyed at behavior that we don’t approve of.  But the fact is that children argue, disagree, and, at times, behave in ways we don’t like.

Now what?

  • If children are in immediate danger then, yes, “run & rescue”, if not, be patient.
  •  Teach children to use their words instead of their bodies. Very young children can learn to tell another child “No push!”  Older toddlers often require adults to model a solution. i.e. “Tell John that you are playing with the truck now” or “Tell Annie that she can look at the book when you are done.”  Very often a young child can be directed away from the conflict when you offer them a similar toy or one that you know they like.  Celebrate success!
  • Many times preschoolers and young school-agers can work things out to their satisfaction when we give them time.  This empowers them to look at conflicts as problem solvers.  They learn that successful play involves give and take.  While it takes time to learn that things don’t always go their way – children also learn that they can choose to stay or leave and start a new game and keep their friends either way.  As adults, our job is to keep a watchful eye and offer ideas if needed.
  • Older school-agers have a lot going on, there are significant changes in every aspect of their life!  A united front of family, school and community is critical for children to draw on strong models of friendship, tolerance and strategies for conflict resolutions.  Be aware of everything that points your child toward personal and social success.

“The child’s first and most influential teacher is the parent.”  P. Mayfield

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

 


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