EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Archive for October 2011

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

We often hear the terms self-esteem & self-concept and wonder how these labels apply to our children.  We read articles that advise us to acknowledge and praise everything our child does and we read articles that tell us not to.  This gets confusing.  Sadly, we also read articles that tell the stories of children being callous and intentionally mean to others – and we are confused about this as well.  How does that happen?  What can we do?

Our job with young children is to give them the tools they need to feel good about themselves and to see the world as a trustworthy and caring place to be.  This will set them up for success in a confusing world that is filled with mixed messages.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Children who feel good about themselves – who have a positive self concept – are more likely to feel good about their world. They take the time to make friends and to be a friend. They take more responsibility for their actions and find pleasure in relationships. They see their world as a friendly, secure place.  They have skills they need to confront obstacles and make good choices.  A positive sense of self is a strong and critical tool that shapes a child’s world.

Building your child’s self-esteem doesn’t cost a thing.  It is an investment of commitment, attention, time and unconditional love.  The return lasts a lifetime.

Some simple ideas to start:

  • Along with acknowledgement of big, obvious positive actions, “Catch you child being good”; pay attention to little things that your child does too. If these are routines (pushing a dinner chair in to the table, hanging a coat on the hook,) acknowledge success in this task.  Don’t just praise the “big” picture. Celebrate small accomplishments.  Surprise children with a hug, thumbs up and wink.
  • Use specific language that lets children know exactly what has been a positive action: “Anne, nice job feeding the dog. He counts on you.” or “Mark, you really helped by setting the table with me. Thank you.” 
  • Encourage and support beginning positive friendships. 
  • Model kindness, problem solving, conflict resolution and safe choices.  Use language to talk through these significant issues that are really part of every day.
  • Be a sounding board and safe haven for your children – always have an ear to listen, a voice of reason and a shoulder to cry on. 

When we take time out of our schedules to really listen to our children and talk with them about their interests and ideas, we are telling them they are important and worthwhile.

Everyone needs to feel appreciated and loved. Small children thrive on it. It’s how they build confidence. We send messages to our children all the time.  Eye contact, smiling, bending down to their level, and holding them in our arms or on our laps shows them they have our attention.                

Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.  ~Henry Ford

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Fall is here and winter is just around the corner.  With the change in weather comes concern that our little ones are warm while they sleep.  We want their cribs and beds to be cozy and welcoming.  While this is very important, it is critical to practice the following safe sleep recommendations for our young children – infants in particular.

The Back to Sleep Campaign has been a forceful advocate to help families make thoughtful and appropriate sleep decisions that will keep their babies safe while they slumber.  Along with information for parents, this national campaign stresses the importance of discussing these safe sleep recommendations for infants with babysitters and grandparents (or any other adult) who will be with an infant during nap or bedtime.

Recommendations are made to raise awareness of safe sleep patterns and habits:

  • Follow the ABC’s of safe sleep: Babies should sleep Alone, on their Backs and in a Crib at nap and at bedtime.
  • Never use a car seat or baby swing for nap or bedtime.
  • Never put a baby to sleep on an adult bed, couch, futon, sheepskin or pile carpet.
  • Cribs should be free of pillows, bumper pads, quilts or other plush material. Do not use sleep positioners.
  • Crib mattresses should be firm and tight-fitting. If you can fit two fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib, the mattress is too small.
  • Consider / recommended using a sleep sack or footed sleeper.
  • Do not let baby get too hot.  Keep room temperature moderate for sleep.
  • Don’t smoke near a baby.
  • Consider using a pacifier during sleep.
  • Do not mistake the ability to lift and turn the head as a sign that a baby is no longer at risk. Babies should still be put to sleep on their backs after this milestone occurs.
  • When an infant begins to roll during sleep, consider repositioning onto the back for the first week. Research indicates babies are more vulnerable to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) the week after they first roll onto their abdomens. The risk decreases in the following weeks.

For more information visit and

“Sleeping children are simply angels at rest.”  Holly Near

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Talking builds language and thinking skills. 

 That’s a fact.

We talk with our children every day.  We talk with them face to face.  We talk with them front seat to back seat on our many car rides.  We talk to our children from one room to the other when everyone is busy.  We talk with children personally and on the phone.  Talking with your child takes up incredible amounts of time in each day – and that is just the “talk” that we hear!  We all think about our children each day and sometimes practice our spoken words; This is what I am going to say when I see them at home!  I can’t wait to tell her about going to the mall for her birthday!

We talk to little ones and big ones with purpose; directions “Come to the table to eat.”, instructions “Now pull the flap over and stick it on the Velcro to close up your sneaker.”,  to give rules “Wait at the corner and look both ways before you cross the street.”  We talk to celebrate “Hurray!”, and we talk toshare “I have the funniest story to tell you!”  We say “yes” and “no” a lot.

All of this teaches language and thinking skills.

The National Institute for Literacy offers some talking – language building – tips:

  • Mealtimes and other routines are great times to talk with children.
  • Ask questions that encourage a child to think – questions that involve recalling events, predicting things, using imagination and explanation.
  • Teach children conversations – conversations should go back and forth with each person responding to the other, listening while waiting their turn to speak.   High eye contact is part of conversations.
  • Extend conversations with children.  Use triggers ; “W” questions (who, what, why, when, where), offer additions to conversation (I saw him too, I saw him with the puppy in the yard), add attention words that let children know you are listening (wow!  I can’t believe it!  That’s funny.)
  • Language should include rich, varied words that you want children to learn to understand and use.
  • Expand on a child’s language by repeating it with extensions; add descriptive words and details.
  • Use words correctly that a child uses incorrectly without attention to the developmental mistake i.e. child: Sneakers hurt my foots.  You:  I didn’t know your sneakers hurt your feet!
  • Add to and build on a child’s ideas and verbal expressions.
  • Read out loud to children every day and talk about the story.
  • Make it a point to personally speak with each child each day.

We teach language and thinking skills each day through talking with our children.

Our words are endearing, thoughtful and kind.  Our words can also be callous, sharp and critical.  Our children hear them all.  Our children will think about them all.  Our children will use the words, tones and gestures that we model.  Talking with your child teaches your language and reflects your thoughts.

Listen to your children talk.  You will hear yourself.

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Current data and research points to specific challenges that face families:

  • Rushed schedules – this includes “over scheduled” children
  • Ease of fast food options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks
  • High screen time – of children and adults in the home
  • Increase in advertisement of high sugar, low nutrition foods
  • Decrease of indoor & outdoor unscheduled play.

But!  There is also significant work being done, medical campaigns to highlight healthy choices and extensive information easily accessible through all media to offer families ideas to keep health and nutrition for their children in the forefront.

 Here is a summary of the most repeated and effective ways to promote healthy children:

  • Healthy Habits: #1 recommended!    Keep family routines inclusive of eating together, learned hygiene, and balance of “commitments” (both yours & your children’s.)
  •  Physical activities: include formal exercise routines for the whole family.
  •  Low screen time: get away from the T.V. and computer!  Some experts recommend one hour a day for screen time in the home. (
  •  Balanced diet: refer to the Food Pyramid ( to be sure children have their nutritional needs met.
  •  Hydrate: children are increasingly aware of their need for water. Continue to help them select water over sugared or chemical enhanced sweetened drinks.
  •  Rest & Sleep: children’s bodies require down time. recommends so much sleep per day; 
  • infants – 14 hrs.  
  • 1-3 yr. olds – 12-14 hrs.  
  • 3-6 yr. olds – 10-12 hrs.
  • 7-12 yr. olds – 10-11 hrs.   
  • 12-18 yr. olds – 8-9 hrs.
  •  Play: playing, running, jumping, climbing, digging and all the other “kid stuff” that happens in the backyard and playground has profound effects on learning, friendships, physical strength and positive self concept.  Play is invaluable.

Habits are a bit like rabbits — good or bad, they multiply.”

Roslyn Duffy

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

October 6, 2011 is a national day of reading!

Founded at Yale University in 1993 to draw attention to literacy and advocate for the critical need of books for preschool children in low-income neighborhoods, Jumpstart was launched as a way to involve everyone in the mission of literacy for all children. Jumpstart  is a national initiative (which has become an international success!) that spearheads and organizes a countrywide campaign to highlight the incredible ways that early reading skills put children on a path of life-long success.

In 2006 Jumpstart introduced a widespread and very public annual day of reading; Read for the Record.  Each year Jumpstart designates a beloved and exciting children’s book that is read by millions of children and readers all over the world!  “In 2006, we launched the first Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign with our Founding Partner, the Pearson Foundation. We began the morning of that campaign day on NBC’s TODAY Show, which has become a proud tradition.”

Classic children’s literature such as The Little Engine That Could, Corduroy and The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been read with children throughout this annual event. During last year’s campaign The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was read with 2,057,513 children creating the largest shared reading experience in history!  Child care centers, schools, community groups and families focus on reading and all of the skills and pleasure that are part of reading with a child.

This year’s Read for the Record book is Llama Llama red pajama by Anna Dewdney.  It is a delightful story about a worried little llama being tucked in bed by his mama.  He needs to know – where did she go after she tucked him in?  Sweet illustrations and simple rhymes tell a story all too common at bedtime!  Look in the library, maybe you have this book at home, purchase the story for a little one you love or go to the Jumpstart website and access Llama Llama red pajama online to read with your family.  Join us on October 6, 2011 as we Read for the Record!

Read with your children on October 6th and then read with them each and every day after that. Snuggle up on the couch, read a story at bedtime, turn pages on the grass outside and draw your child into wonderful stories of letters and words and pictures…stories that tell them about little puppies and giant mountains.   It will make a difference that lasts a lifetime.

“Let’s read the same book. The same day. With children all over the globe. What began as a big idea has become a record-breaking annual campaign!”   Jumpstart

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director


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