EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Archive for April 2012

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Young children thrive on routine. 

We teach them this both intentionally:

  • Potty users learn to “flush & wash” before they leave the bathroom.   

We also teach routines unintentionally:

  • If you walk a dog, chances are you leave the house and follow the same path each day at the same time. 
  • Car routes to school or childcare have the same sequence of turns. 
  • Even very young car- seat users recognize this.

Children learn routines and count on routines.

Routines help children learn to read their bodies. Babies have no sense of body changes indicating elimination.  Young toddlers will feel these signs and often find a little hiding space to fill a diaper.  We watch them, note the time and offer language to help; “I see you’re ready to go to the potty now.” This helps them and you!  At the end of the day, the routine of play, dinner, bath, story and bed are welcome to a tired little body learning to relax and sleep.

Older children find an order for their day through routines.  Young children learn routines through large chucks of the day; morning, afternoon and night.  This becomes more and more detailed as they get older; morning, school, sports/clubs, homework, outside play, relax time, sleep.  From preschool on, classrooms provide a schedule of the day for children.  This is a very tangible way for children to learn to count on and follow routines for a sense of order and consistency.

Routines provide a sense of trust.  Families who always show up when they say they will, help children trust their world.  Babies are fed when their bodies are hungry.  Toddlers are helped in the potty when they wake from nap.  Older children know when to get homework books on the table. Calendars are posted for all extra events and routinely checked.  All children are hugged, kissed and tucked in bed at the same time each night.  They count on it.

Spring is here, summer time is around the corner. With this comes the challenge of keeping little ones in bedtime routines.  It is now lighter later at night.  This takes time to get used to.  Patience is a virtue!

The next time your little ones are “out of sorts”; take an inventory of what is going on around them.  It’s a good bet that there have been changes that they have not chosen to make, but are required to be part of.

Keep routines consistent as much as you can.

Children’s internal clocks go off at the same time each day.  Even on weekends, provide a nutritional breakfast, cleaning & dressing and then active play routines.  Be aware of those internal clocks no matter how old your child is.  The more consistent their routine is, the better off they are.

“As she gets older, when a child knows what is going to happen and who is going to be there, it allows her to think and feel more confidently and freely.” Dr. P. Gorski, Harvard Pediatrics “When she does not know what to expect, her internal alarms go off.”

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Earth Day is officially Sunday, April 22, 2012

What have you done to send the message to your children that you care about the world you live in?  How have you provided a model of thoughtful and consistent awareness of your yearly Earth Day promise to keep air and water clean and safe – to keep our land litter free – to keep waste to a minimum?

One day a year has been set apart to internationally highlight the need to globally think about the earth we live on and the way that each one of us can contribute to a healthy, sustainable world.

Be a teaching model for your children.  Teach them to take care of the earth.

Investigate your city or community’s efforts and campaigns for Earth Day awareness.  Be part of visible advocacy with your family.  This is critical to good citizenship which is learned very early in life.

Go Green:

  • Reduce. Use reusable lunch boxes instead of bags.  Wash silverware and dishes instead of using disposable ones.  Carry totes and canvas bags with you for groceries.  Follow the many instructions and programs available to reduce energy use in your home.  Drink tap water.  Eat left overs.  Walk.
  • Reuse.  Almost every container, box or storage unit in your home can be used in so many more ways than it is advertised.  Be creative!  Help children find new ways to use old or what seems like worn out items around the house.  When you finish the orange juice, make lemonade in the same container. Did you know there are “99 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags”?  I didn’t either, but if you google “reuse anything,” you will find all kinds of good ideas!  Donate outgrown clothes.  Volunteer.
  • Recycle.  Very young children can learn to recycle paper, cardboard, plastic and metal.  Set up clear stations in your garage or hallway to sort and recycle household garbage.  Be sure that glass and metal is only handled by older children under adult supervision.  Create a compost pile – you can find easy, clear instructions at http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/rrr/composting/by_compost.htm  
  • Garden.  There is nothing better than planting a seed in dirt, tending it, watching it grow and then enjoying delicious vegetables right off the vine!  All children benefit from conscious efforts in gardening.  This is a very easy and inexpensive way to begin a life-long respect for growing cycles.  Children love to show off their plants, whether it is a small pot of beans or a large plot of backyard tomatoes.  And homegrown is always better!

Keep it going.  This year Earth Day is officially Sunday, April 22, 2012.  Don’t stop efforts here.  Help older children investigate interesting facts about our planet and fun information about the air, land and sea. There are many books to look at and read that help educate children about life on earth – from the smallest insect to the tallest redwood.                                                                                                   

More than 20,000,000 Hershey’s Kisses are wrapped each day.

 That’s 133 square miles of tinfoil.

All that foil is recyclable.

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Posted on: April 16, 2012

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Executive Functioning is a big term, the label, for the mental tasks critical for children to learn and be “good at.”  If you haven’t heard the term or haven’t seen these skills highlighted in your child’s school settings yet, you will.  These are skills that are taught at and supported in schools and in high quality early childhood preschools and after school programs.  Executive Functions require time and practice.

Executive functioning skills are mental tasks that include the ability to:

  • plan 
  • strategize
  • organize
  • set goals
  • pay attention to details that make a difference

Helping children with these important skills isn’t hard.  But it does require a lot of patience and an attitude of acceptance in whatever stage they are in with confidence that your child will be successful as he grows and matures.  Children will be “wavy” in their accomplishment of these skills, often backsliding when we think they are solidly established.  This is how development goes.

Always remember that infants, toddlers and young preschool children are very new at all of their skills and are spending enormous amounts of energy & effort on the tasks of walking, communicating, eating, toileting, sleeping in predictable patterns and building solid, positive relationships.  They look to you and count on you as a model of executive function.

Want to help your children? Use the language that is the label.  Kids love big words

Plan

  • Let’s plan our day today.  Let’s write down what we will do and then plan out when to go.
  • What’s your plan for the weekend game?

Strategize

  • Good idea to go to the mall tonight because Saturday morning is so busy.  Good strategy for shopping!
  • We need a strategy to clean out the basement for spring.  Let’s think it through….

Organize

  • Organize your toys by separating the dolls, cars, art supplies and outside gear.
  • She is really organized.  Everything makes sense.

Set goals

  • Setting a goal of scoring in each soccer game takes a lot of practice.  So let’s get started!
  • My goal is to work hard and finally finish this book!

Paying attention to details that make a difference

  • It really made a difference that you noticed that little arrow on the sign!
  • You’re right!  That little dog has a collar on.  We can help him get home. 

“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.” – Roger Lewin, Ph.D.

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

It’s been my experience that families with little ones who have imaginary friends react in two very specific ways; with worry and dread that something is wrong or with total acceptance, setting another place at the table and moving over on the couch.  Imaginary friends have attended birthday parties and have been sent to bed early for misbehavior.

Recently a group of preschool parents asked me what I thought about imaginary friends.  Personally, I have found that children who have imaginary friends are self-assured, very verbal and find ways to solve problems and express concerns with removal of perceived threat.  I think both the child and their imaginary friend deserve attention and respect.

In her Childcare Exchange Journal article “Getting Along With Imaginary Friends,” Diane Krissansen  makes these observations:

Some children have many imaginary friends; other children have only one or none at all.   According to Tracy Gleason, Wellesley College, imaginary friends tend to be slightly more common for first-born and only children. Girls are more likely to create imaginary friends than boys — possibly because boys tend to do more impersonations of characters.

Imaginary friends are a positive tool in helping children learn about the world and serve many useful purposes.  They allow children to learn about roles and relationships, providing a practice pal for the child’s emerging social skills.  They enable children to explore issues of control, discipline, and power, without the anxiety of interacting with real authority figures. 

Imaginary friends provide an outlet for children to express and work through the normal anxieties of growing up.  They often make an appearance during times of stress or change, such as: moving; birth of a sibling; or death of a family member.

Imaginary friends tend to leave as they entered – all of a sudden, without fanfare or production.  They are a part of childhood that is specific to childhood.  And childhood is so very short.  So instead of being aggravated or worried about the pizza loving, blue striped tiger that lives in your house, set another plate and enjoy!

Each year children are involved with more people, have more responsibilities and learn more skills to deal with their world.  Imaginary friends aren’t needed.  But you always are.

“An imaginary friend is often what the child needs it to be.” Barbara Goldstein

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Are children always in a hurry?  That depends on who you ask and when you ask it….

Parents can talk for hours about little ones who poke around and never seem to understand that they need to get going; to get dressed to go outside, to clean up their toys, to get shoes tied.  Of course, these are all on the parent’s agenda. 

These same parents will tell you about the lightning speed of a little one running away from them or an older child gulping food to be finished in time for their favorite t.v. show. These, of course, are on the child’s agenda.

Hmmmm…  Children always in a hurry?  Who’s agenda are you looking at?

Children need time.  The younger the child, the more time they need to form relationships, to practice new and exciting skills, to maintain control of their bodies, to understand communication and to figure out their world (because their world is literally brand new and extremely exciting!)  We know, as adults, that timing is everything – children have no idea.

How can you give your child time to grow – to figure it out?

Slow down.  Really, critically look at your own schedule and what demands you make on yourself.  These are the same demands you are making on your family – your children.  Take out of the day anything that will make your time with your children rushed and hurried.  Look at your calendar; exactly how many birthday parties, events or commitments are realistic?  Breathe a little.  This is not unrealistic.

Speed up.  Can you get yourself going a little earlier so that the shout of “Get in the car now!” is not part of your morning?  Take your own advice and prepare what you can ahead of time – for meals, household responsibilities, commitments you have to keep, personal or job related duties.  Speeding to the mall with children on your way to the birthday party (invited to 3 weeks ago) doesn’t count!

Enjoy your children.  Each day is new.                                                                                                                       

  • Babies are wide-eyed over what we consider every day sights & sounds.  Their new world is magic. Watch them.  They strain their necks to see a dropped sponge on the floor.  They turn towards birds chirping in a tree.  Babies giggle when the dog walks into the kitchen – magic!
  • Toddlers are brand new to walking & talking.  Let them do both!  When you are tempted to scoop them up and carry them or tell them what they want because this will save you time – Don’t do it!
  • Older children are learning the critical skills of waiting, planning, of consideration and self-control.  All of these take time.  Allow them the gift of time that will allow mistakes & “re-dos”, that will allow them to absorb different perspectives, which will help them achieve goals and become resilient and efficient.

Life is short and childhood is the shortest part of it.  Don’t miss it.

“The 5 second rule: the next time you ask a child a question: wait!  Children need time to process their thoughts, select appropriate language and build self-confidence.”  M. LeBaron
 

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director


Categories

Our Twitter Feed @EduKidsInc

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 14 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 22,555 Hits
wordpress counter