How You Can Help Your Child with School Readiness

Before children can focus on the skills they need for school readiness they need to develop the necessary milestones that are essential for growth and development. Children should not be expected to skip developmental milestones that prepare them for academic readiness. It is important for adults to be focused on how young children view the world around them and how it contributes to their learning. For example, have you ever bought your child a new toy and watched their engagement, then suddenly, they notice a rubber band on the floor and instantly lose interest in what they were doing? Children are naturally curious, and anything they can manipulate with their hands can instantly challenge them. Think of all the possibilities to their play. Play-based learning stimulates curiosity, imagination, and discovery. It is the best way to help children grow and develop. The next time your child is playing, look closely at what they’re doing and help them build deeper understanding by implementing the following tips:

  • Ask your child open-ended questions, such as “Can you tell me about what you’re doing?”, “I can tell by all that laughing that you’re having fun, what is funny?”. Open-ended questions will lead to multiple answers that will help guide you to building new ideas with your child.

  • Help your child make connections in everyday experiences while playing. For example, children can help you sort laundry by color and/or item or they can make a game of setting the table while they count silverware, etc.

  • Limit screen time and allow your child more outdoor playtime.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” (Mr. Fred Rogers)

 6 Warm Weather Safety Tips

Longer days means children are ready to run faster and play harder. As you see them race out the door do you feel a need to protect them from everything that could and would potentially go wrong? 

Parents have many outlying factors to consider; such as, childcare coordination, road safety, environmental exposure etc. It’s a fact that the spring and summer seasons call for extra preparation in order for young children to have an endless supply of fun.

Here are some tips to assure safety for the whole family:

 

1.       Be Sun Savvy:

Spring sting. We know that a person exposed to excessive sunlight has an increased risk of melanoma and sun stroke. Here are some common ways to prevent increasing your child’s risk. 

Apply sunscreen early and repeat throughout the day. Kids 6 months and older should have at least 15 SPF or higher and it should be re-applied every 15-30 minutes to decrease the likelihood of excessive sun exposure. Parents can also opt for protective covering, clothing, and shades to shield from harmful sun rays.

Keep infants out of the sun: Infants younger than 6 months should be shielded from direct sunlight because of their sensitivity to outdoor environments. They have a high risk of overexposure.

Beware of shade: Staying in the shade can give us a false sense of security. The shady areas may provide heat relief, but the scattered sun rays can still cause sunburns in just as much time as being fully exposed.

 

2.       Water Rules:

Drowning can happen quickly and quietly. This is the leading cause of unintentional death in kids ages 1-4 years old.  Below are helpful tips to keep water play safe this season:

  • Stay free of distraction. Don’t allow yourself to be inattentive while your children swim or play in the water. Do not turn your back on your children or get distracted with your cell phone.  Drowning can happen in minutes. Note: children should never be left alone or left without adult supervision near or around pools of water regardless of depth.

  • Get trained.  Adults, babysitters, and caregivers should become Infant/Child CPR certified.

3.       Beware of the bugs:

Creepy crawlers and blood sucking insects are very much a part of warm weather, day and night. Here are some suggestions to keep your spring and summer insect free:

  • Spray and repeat: Parents should apply insect repellent to the exposed skin of children.  Do not forget to re-apply when necessary in order to keep from being bitten.

  • Watch for allergies: Kids can be prone to allergens of the environment and/or be allergic to certain bug bites.  Being aware and using an allergy medicine can ensure your child’s enjoyment of outdoor play and extend their overall health.

4.       Prevent Dehydration:

Sun stroke can be sneaky.  Your child may become dehydrated before there are any outward signs. Children need to drink water often when in the sun.  Juice and soft drinks should be offered minimally, if not at all.

  • Children should drink 12oz of water 30 minutes before outdoor activities begin, and take water breaks every 20 minutes continually thereafter.

  • Tip: A child’s gulp equals a half-ounce of fluid, averaged, therefore your child should drink 10 gulps for every 20 minutes of play.

Watch for warning signs of dehydration such as excessive thirst, dry/sticky mouth, headache, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, and/or changes in behavior.

5.       Heads Up:

Put a lid on it!  Kids should always wear proper fitting head gear when biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc. It’s important for you, the parent, to model proper safety practices for your child. Take a family trip to choose the color and style of helmets. This can be a fun way to encourage head gear safety, but don’t forget to fasten that chin strap!

Hats are also important in the summer months.  Wearing a hat can help keep your child’s body temperature down.

6.       Never Wait in a Hot Car:

Look twice!  It only takes 10 minutes for a car’s inside temperature to increase 20+ degrees. We have all heard the stories of a small child or pet being left to wait in a car, whether it be a “quick-run-in” or because “they’re sleeping”.  This is unsafe, negligent and potentially fatal. Children are at a greater risk because their body temperature heats up at a high rate, 5x more than an adult!  A cracked window will not keep your child safe from injury in the heat of the summer. 

Here are some great seasonal supplies to have stowed away for a safe Spring and Summer:

·         Cell phone

·         Water

·         Bandages

·         Antibiotic cream

·         Crushable icepacks

·         Sun protectant

·         Insect repellent

·         Tweezers

Now is the time to enjoy the longer days and fill them with laughter, memories and fun for all. Sometimes those bug bites and knee scrapes are a worthy exchange. Use these tips to prevent worry and keep your family safe this season!

 

 

How to Conquer the Potty-Training Dilemma?

Are you thinking about potty training and not sure how to get started, or maybe you tried but gave up? We’ve all been there.  Have you heard stories of how difficult it is to potty train your child? Do not listen! It doesn’t need to be difficult. It’s about creating a routine that will work for you and your child, that is the first step to potty training success.

1.       Be intentional and committed, don’t give up! Once you start keep going.

2.        Create a space in your living room where you will be comfortable using a portable potty. This is typically where you will be spending most of your time. If not, pick an area that works for you.

3.       Keep a basket of toys nearby so your child has something to do while sitting.  Read stories about going potty such as, “Elmo Goes Potty”.

4.       Notice how often you change your child.  This will help you determine when you need to sit your child on the potty.

5.       Don’t use pull-ups!  Pull-ups are made of the same material diapers are. Under-wear ONLY!

6.       Use a water proof mattress protector (you’ll be thankful later).

7.       Acknowledge your child’s efforts!  What you focus on grows!  Do not give your child attention for their failures – only attempts and successes!

How do I know when my child’s ready? Ask yourself these questions:

1.       Does your child pull his/her pants up and down independently?

2.       Does your child frequently have dry diapers? If so, this is an indicator that your child is learning bladder and bowel control.

3.       Does your child seek an area to hide when they’re going poop?

4.       Does you child dislike the feeling of being wet?  And can openly communicate with you when they are?

5.       Can your child remove their own diaper?

If you have answered yes to these 5 questions then your child is ready for potty training!

Spring into fitness this season with these family friendly tips. . .

Spring into fitness this season with these family friendly tips…

If you’re like a lot of people, you are not fond of hitting the gym, nor do you want to hassle with a baby sitter, so you can get myself there. As a busy parent, you am focused on giving your kids a happy and healthy life. That means fun, fun and more fun. Read below to for a few fun, local ways to get moving with your little ones.

1.Take a hike
Exploring the environment around us is not only fun, but it can be a great way to learn about where we live. How lucky are we to have the Sandia Mountains right in our backyard? There are trails, parks and picnic areas to enjoy all along the foothills. Without going too far, you and your family can experience the great New Mexico outdoors while getting in some physical fitness at the same time. Visit
http://www.sandiahiking.com to look up hiking trails for all fitness levels.

2. Hunt for adventure
There is so much to learn about bugs, trees and plants to create our own science lesson just by exploring the outdoors.  You can go for a scavenger hunt around your neighborhood. A spring walk will do your heart a ton of good and your little ones will learn all there is to know about where they live. Find out how many items you and your children can discuss throughout your neighborhood adventure.

3. Take it back to the good ‘ol days
We all have great memories of staying out ‘til the street lights went on… You know you’ve told your kids those stories of ‘when you were little’. Teach your kids classic games like hopscotch, four square and kick the can. Remind yourself how the power of fun can crush boredom, create quality time and keep us active. Visit https://www.cabq.gov/parksandrecreation for parks and recreation locations.

4. Make fitness a walk in the park
I bet, even if you tried, it would be hard to say how many parks there are here in Albuquerque that are free, family fun opportunities and are around every corner. Venture outside your neighborhood and check out a new, exciting play area you haven’t seen before. You can take a stroll along the sidewalk or just enjoy the fresh air and happy smiles. Either way, you are sure to gain some positive energy just by getting outside.

 5. If all else fails, dance…
Whether it be in a backyard, on a balcony or near an open window; one of the most universal ways to get your body moving is to dance! Let the sun shine, the birds chirp and the music play while you and your little ones simply let loose and dance! You won’t even know you’re burning calories because everyone will certainly be having fun.



10 Simple and Fun Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with your Children

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and it is a great time to start new family traditions. Children love the opportunity to play and bond with us through family activities.

Here are 10 simple and fun ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with your children:

  1. Plan a family dinner with traditional Irish food such as corned beef, potatoes and cabbage.

  2. Wear ONLY green all day and don’t forget to take silly pictures.

  3. Replace words your children know with an Irish variation such as, sidewalks are called ‘footpaths’. A ‘boot’ is not something you put on your foot it is the trunk of a car and sweaters are ‘jumpers’.

  4. Spend the day searching for a Leprechaun. They are an Irish Fairy that hides their gold at the end of rainbows and, when caught, will grant you 3 wishes in exchange for their freedom.

  5. Dance! The Legend of the Leprechaun has it that they will dance an Irish Jig until they wear out their shoes.

  6. Plan a family Leprechaun Hunt before dinner. Search for: something green, a gold coin, something Irish, something lucky, a hat, a four leaf clover, black shoes, a rainbow, leprechaun food etc

  7. Bake together! Green cupcakes, shamrock cookies, Irish Soda bread etc

  8. Lead fun and meaningful conversations at the dinner table. Challenge everyone to take turns naming 5 things that are green with NO repeats. Imagine you caught the Leprechaun and you had three wishes, have everyone talk about what they would do with those wishes.

  9. Tell jokes! Why do people where shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day? (Because real rocks are too heavy!) What kind of bow can be tied? (a rainbow)

  10. And READ! Reading to children is a fundamental part of their growth and development. There are wonderful books about St. Patrick’s Day such as, That’s What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting; How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace, and; Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola.

Luck of the Irish to you!

Practice Distraction

 

 

Do you ever have a thought when you’re participating in an activity that is not engaging such as “A-ha?”  Or a moment where a light bulb comes on or an answer to a latent dilemma just comes to you. This phenomenon is known as the Eureka Moment. Let’s talk for a minute about health, more specifically, mental health. Discussions along this subject matter involve stress and the management of it. This discussion will focus more on mind and body connections and how to preserve your vigor of life for longevity.

Alice Flaherty, a renowned neuroscientist that researches creativity, provides an answer. Our creative potential stems from a chemical known as dopamine. The more dopamine that is released, the more creative our thoughts and thought -process is constructed, she says:

 

“People vary in terms of their level of creative drive according to the activity of the dopamine pathways of the limbic system.”

 

 The quote above means our thoughts are driven by dopamine, a natural reoccurring organic chemical compound that is produced in the brain that communicates to other microcells and roles in emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and smelling sense. Emotional life is largely housed in the limbic system, and it critically aids the formation of memories. The increase production of this compound cements and creates permanent connections with instincts and mood. This explains why we feel the way we do, why we behave the way we do and how we build our personal and social constructs of belief.

This means that the triggers we experience make us feel great and relaxed, and are thereby related to dopamine! This is not prejudice to age, gender but a wide variance from person to person. Below are some triggers:

·         Music!

·         Fitness!

·         Meditation!

·         Reading!

These are ever changing from person to person with no measurable consistency. Now, ask yourself, what “drives” you?  Understanding what drives you will increase your chances of coming in to the “eureka or a-ha” moment.

A Harvard researcher, Carson, B. a Neurologist, that has long studied this phenomenon, labels it as a “distraction.”

 “In other words, a distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.’’

One popular maxim that is often quoted is that of Socrates and it says: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

Find your wisdom and practice “distraction” to produce creative thinking to a better healthier stress-free YOU.

 

The Beauty of Breathing

We must not forget the beauty and importance of breathing; the beauty in a deep breathe when we are anxious, nervous or stressed and need calming.

Why have we forgotten to teach our children how to breathe?

Young children have very little experience with stress and anxiety, yet they feel it the same as adults. They feel strong emotions without the life experiences adults have that assist in coping and managing ourselves. Children get overwhelmed with their own emotions and they do not know what to do with those emotions. They may cry, yell, stomp their feet and even hit in frustration. They cannot think of any other choices in those moments. Why not teach our children to breathe? We need to show them how to take deep breathes when they are stressed, frustrated, angry, sad or even confused. We need to show them what we want them to do when they have those feelings.

We need to grace our children with permission to explore their emotions; both positive and negative. Their negative emotions (i.e. tantrums) are a normal and natural part of learning to self-regulate themselves. We should never punish a child for feeling and reacting to their negative emotions. We need to show them how to manage those emotions and choose a different reaction by:

  • Being Calm

  • Modeling Deep Breaths

  • Forgiveness

  • Not Lingering in Negative Emotions

Tomorrow is always a better day. You are your child’s first and greatest teacher. Show them how to move past the upset, release and forgive the negative and focus on a positive new beginning.

Providing your child's emotions a safe place-an alternative to time-out

If you’re struggling with disciplining your child you may have already tried using “time out” to resolve unwanted behavior. Time out has been a popular tool since the 1960’s but studies have shown that time out is not always effective for every child.

According to Mary C. Lamia on www.psychologytoday.com, young children may see time out as a form of punishment; which is not the goal for our little learners.  As parents and caregivers, we want our discipline strategies to teach and guide our children to positively handle their emotions. If you are like many who have been unsuccessful with the use of time out, here is a strategy you can implement at home or in your classroom.

Rather than asking our children to stop their emotional outbursts, we should teach them what their emotions are and how to handle them. Let them know that crying is acceptable because it helps release those negative feelings. Create a safe place in your home that can serve as a welcoming area for your child to handle their emotions. You can include pillows, stuffed animals and pictures to direct your child to positive things they can do to regulate their behavior.

Discuss this space with your child. Show them what they can and can’t do in this space. (i.e. It’s ok to feel sad, tired or angry. You can scream, cry or take a break when you’re upset, but you must do that in your safe place. You cannot hit, throw or make others feel bad when you’re upset).

Be consistent and assertive when implementing this strategy. Be sure that this space is reserved for your child to use. As you see your child’s emotions come out remind them to use their safe space.

Teaching young children that it is acceptable to feel all types of emotions and what they can do to handle feeling them is our main goal as parents and caregivers. We want them to learn what to do in life, rather than reprimanding them for what not to do. Not only is positive guidance effective in dealing with direct behavior, but it also gives them the opportunity to take charge of their emotions. They begin to recognize their feelings and, as they grow, they will know what to do in every situation.

Giving Your Child’s Emotions a Safe Space-An Alternative to Time Out

If you’re struggling with disciplining your child, you may have already tried using “time out” to resolve unwanted behavior. Time out has been a popular tool since the 1960’s, but studies have shown that time out is not always effective for every child. According to Mary C. Lamia on www.psychologytoday.com, young children may see time out as a form of punishment, which is not the goal for our little learners.  As parents and caregivers, we want our discipline strategies to teach and guide our children to positively handle their emotions. If you are like many who have been unsuccessful with the use of time out, here is a strategy you can implement at home or in your classroom.

Rather than asking our children to stop their emotional outbursts, we should teach them what their emotions are and how to handle them. Let them know that crying is ok because it helps release those negative feelings. Create a safe place in your home, that can serve as a welcoming area for your child to handle their emotions. Include pillows, stuffed animals and pictures to direct your child to positive things they can do to regulate their behavior.

Discuss this space with your child. Show them what they can and can’t do in this space. (i.e. it’s ok to feel sad, tired or angry. You can scream, cry or just take a break when you’re upset, but you must do that in your safe place. You cannot hit, throw or make others feel bad when you’re upset).

Be consistent and assertive when implementing this strategy. Be sure that this space is reserved for your child while remding them to use their safe space.

Teaching young children that it is ok to feel all types of emotions and what they can do to handle it is our main goal as parents and caregivers. We want them to learn what to do in life, rather than reprimanding them for what not to do. Not only is positive guidance effective in dealing with direct behavior, but it also gives them the opportunity to take charge of their emotions. By doing this, they begin to recognize their feelings and, as they grow, they will know what to do in every situation. 

Tips on how to protect yourself from the Flu:

Flu viruses can vary from mild to severe; common symptoms are:

 

·         Fever or fever-like chills                * NOTE: not everyone with the flu will have a fever

·         Cough/sore throat

·         Runny or stuffy nose

·         Muscle or body aches

·         Headaches

·         Fatigue

·         Vomiting and diarrhea; though this is more common in children than adults

 

What do I do if I get sick?

 

Most people with the flu possess only a mild illness and do not require medical attention or antiviral medication. In the event that symptoms begin, one is advised to stay home and avoid contact due to contagiousness.

 

·         Wash your hands often with soap and water.

·         Try to avoid/limit close contact with other persons. This is how germs are spread!

·         It is advised that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

·         Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or other discard-able items when you cough or sneeze.

·         Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

·         Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.

 

The CDC recommends that antiviral medications are to be used early to treat people who become progressively ill and/or high risk of serious Flu complications due to age or a high risk medical condition.

 

When and why to get a Flu shot?

 

As long as flu viruses are prevalent it is never too late to receive one. In addition to protecting yourself, getting vaccinated also protects people around you; including more vulnerable persons like infants, older people, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. Flu vaccinations are still the best way to prevent flu illness and flu complications. In the event you become ill after receiving the vaccination your symptoms and altogether illness will be milder than not getting the vaccine at all.

 

Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, health departments, pharmacies or you can visit the https://vaccinefinder.org/.

Learning Starts With Your New Year's Resolutions

In a society that ‘re-boots’ itself every New Year’s Eve, it’s hard not to ask. . . “why”?

New Year’s resolutions to be made. . .then forgotten!

Is there any value in this repeated annual ritual? What value is gained in assessing yourself? The act of setting goals and then, potentially not meeting them.

We need to start with the assessing. The value of the New Year Resolution lies in the annual review. Spending time assessing our successes and struggles creates a space to think about more than our day-to-day existence. So we start our year with review.

Then we must plan! We need to decide where we want to go in the New Year. Setting goals helps us develop hope and helps us establish a future we have control over. Goals creates a plan.

Finally, we must act! Goals have been set, and now it is time to do. Once goals are put into action there is either success or failure. The failed goal still achieves an action; a new review.

Plan - Do - Review

One of the foundations of learning lies in the learners ability to plan, act and then review those actions to make new plans. Young children who develop this ability succeed.

How can you help your child learn these steps of success:

  1. Create goals with your child. Family goals to be accomplished together.

  2. Create time to discuss the progress of goals. Make the review process natural and thought provoking.

  3. Create visuals to help your child make their goals concrete. This will make them more achievable.

Happy New Year!

How do we say "YES" for our Children?

The Possibilities of Gratitude.

Recently I learned that children, by the age of 17, have heard the word “no” 150,000 times and the word yes 5,000 times (Simon T. Bailey). Upon hearing that I wondered why a child’s ability to embrace endless possibilities is not appreciated. When we tell children “no” we interfere with those possibilities and stop them from exploring. We interfere with their promise of being anything, creating anything and their innate ability to explore freely.

Gratitude can help us with “yes!”

When we show young children that we appreciate the things around us, we have opened their minds to endless possibilities.

When we show young children how to appreciate themselves by listening to their words, and engaging in our own appreciation of their actions, we teach them possibilities.

When we show young children how to stop worrying; by focusing on the small, positive moments, we show them THEY have endless possibilities!

5 Family Tips to Combat Holiday Stress

As the holiday season sets in, it is easy for adults to find ourselves feeling overwhelmed. Below are 5 tips that can help relieve the pressure and enjoy the magic of the holiday season.

1. Keep your focus on meaningful moments

Remember that the holidays are about spreading joy and being with our loved ones. Don’t get caught up in holiday ideas on your pinterest board and expectations of others . If you’re spending too much money or feeling stressed, it’s time to take a step back. Decide which activities and traditions mean the most to you and focus on those.

2. Plan Ahead

Holiday to do lists are a yearly tradition; buy presents, decorate, cook, and visit loved ones. Be prepared and plan your holiday activities. Decorating and cooking can be progressive projects that you and your children can enjoy throughout the entire holiday season. When it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts. Have your children make meaningful crafts for your loved ones. Try planning ahead for these crafts to eliminate stress and hurry. Crafts made by children will be enjoyed year round. Be present in the moments so you will enjoy the time you have with those around you.

3. Combine meaningful traditions with keeping the kids busy

Adults often have a picture perfect holiday set in our minds. Remember that the holidays are about meaning and joy. Let the kids take control of some of your holiday to do list. Allow them to decorate the tree, set the table and do some baking in the kitchen. It will keep them busy and take those small tasks off your plate, which in turn, creates memories. Household chaos will be at a minimum, but your child will have confidence and memories to last forever.

4. Support the people around you

The traditions of the holidays are instilled in us as young children. Remind your children that the true meaning of the holidays is not about material gifts. Encourage your children to help with household chores and baking. Doing so will help everyone and create life long memories.


5. Do something for yourself

As parents, we are often giving so much of our time, money and energy to our family. Take some time this holiday season for yourself. Try something new in your community, volunteer to help a family in need or just enjoy a solo coffee break. No matter what you do, remember to focus on your blessings and know that all of the sacrifices you are making is something to be incredibly proud of.