Tuesday, August 25, 2009

5 Ways to Help Your Child Expand His Vocabulary

by Linda Rocco, President GummyLump.com

We've all heard the saying that children are like blank slates. Their brains are like sponges just wanting to absorb as much information as possible. A great way to satisfy a child's thirst for information is to help them expand their vocabulary. Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street sings "Words Help Me Mean Just What I say". A child needs the command of language in order to communicate effectively. You can help your child with this. 5 Ways to Help Your Child Expand His Vocabulary: 1. Read! Read! Read to them! The #1 way to expand your child's vocabulary is by reading to him. Your child is never too young for you to read to him. As he gets older make going to the library a special event. It's a great adventure for rainy days too. 2. Watch Movies Together and Comment: When watching a child's movie together you can add commentary like "That shark has an enormous amount of teeth. E N O R M O U S means very very big!" or "That dinosaur is gigantic. G I G A N T I C means very very big!". 3. Expand on What Your Child Says: Small children will talk in phrases saying things like "Room Messy" or "Doll Fall Down." Expand on these statements by saying something like "Yes, your room needs to be straightened out. Then it won't be messy. It will be clean." This is fun for your child because you're making conversation with him but you're also introducing new words to him. In the previous example you're also including opposites: messy vs clean. 4. Use "Big" Words and Explain What They Mean: Don't think that children as young as 15 months can't handle big words. They LOVE big words. It's fun for them to try to repeat them. Make it even more fun by singing a really big word. Take the word "amazing". That's not considered a toddler word but toddlers can say it or even sing it. Remember to give them clues to what it means. For example, "Charlotte you are amazing. You are so wonderful. You are great. You are so smart. You're amazing." You can also sing a song you make up! 5. Make a Habit of Using Synonyms When Responding to Your Child: Children love conversing with us. When they are young it's often difficult for them to say what they mean and sometimes difficult for us to understand what they are trying to communicate. Make a habit of using synonyms (words that mean the same thing) when talking to your child. For example if your child says "I'm very hungry." you could respond with "You're hungry? You're starving? You're feeling ravenous? Are you famished? Good thing dinner is soon!" There are so many fun ways to help your child expand his vocabulary. As with all aspects of learning making it fun is the best approach! Try these ideas starting today and before you know it your child will be saying "wonderful", "fantastic", "beautiful" and "amazing." Brought to you by GummyLump.com.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

3 Commonly Missed Safety Hazards in the Home

by Marjorie Wrenn, Safety Specialist for ChildProofAdvice.com If you're like most parents you think your home is safe for your child. However, unless you've done a thorough inspection, you're likely to find out that you are wrong. The tragic results of this faulty thinking can land your child in the emergency room or worse! 3 Commonly Missed Safety Hazards in the Home: 1. Do you know what the #1 Choking Hazard is for small children? It's the little rubber tip on the end of a door stop. Prevent this home accident by: Removing these rubber tipped door stops and immediately replace them with plastic one piece door stops. Those are easily found in hardware stores and do it yourself stores. 2. Did you know that a toddler can drown in only 1 inch of water? This is a fact and happens because toddlers are top heavy. They can fall head first into a bucket or a toilet and may not be able to get themselves out. A child's lungs can fill with water in as little as 3 seconds! Prevent this home accident by: NEVER keeping buckets around your yard or home that have ANY water in them. Always keep the bathroom door closed AND put a toilet lock on your toilet. Also, never leave your child alone near or in water. 3. Did you know that your hot water tap may be hot enough to give your child 3rd degree burns? The temperature of your hot water heater should not be over 120 degrees. At 140 degrees, three seconds will produce a third degree burn on your child. That's the most serious burn there is. Prevent this home accident by: Installing an anti-scald valve to reduce water flow if the temperature does go over 118 degrees. Some water heaters also have an adjustable thermostat that you can set to 120 degrees or less. These are just a few examples of home hazards that can put your children at risk for serious injury or worse. For additional information and to order your own do-it-yourself "Child Proofing Your Home" safety guide, see this website: childproofadvice.com. Brought to you by Child Proof Advice.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In Praise of Mud by Carol Kranowitz

Published in S.I. Focus magazine (Winter 2004), and adapted from a 1990 article originally published in Carol Kranowitz's column, "Gentle Reminders," in Parent and Child magazine. Reprinted with permission.
A child comes to school on a soggy day. Tentatively approaching a puddle, she sticks in one spotless boot, watching with interest as her foot sinks into the mud. She puts in the other boot. She is entranced. Looking up, she says to her teacher, "Is this mud? It's fun! Is it okay?"

A child comes to school in his caregiver's immaculate car. Tearfully, he announces, "My babysitter said not to get dirty." He cannot be persuaded to paint at the easel, jump in the mulch, or wriggle on the floor like a caterpillar, although he itches to get into the play.

A child comes to school on a wintry Monday. He says, "Daddy and I watched football all weekend. We're couch potatoes!" Good news: Big Potato and Potato Chip spent time together. Bad news: they limited their sensory stimulation to watching television. They missed the chance at half time to engage in active, physical contact with each other, a leathery football, scrubby turf, and frosty air.

What's wrong here? Have our children lost the freedom to get down and get dirty? Growing up to be tidy is commendable, but many children seem to be maturing without a strong sensitivity to touch.

The touch (or tactile) sense is essential to children's development. Like vision and hearing, touch opens the main avenues of learning. Much of our knowledge about the importance of touch comes from the field of sensory integration (or sensory processing), pioneered by A. Jean Ayres, PhD, OTR. Her research revealed that the ability to interpret tactile information not only promotes optimum development of the young child's nervous system, but also helps the child learn about his world.

Learning about the environment is a child's primary occupation. His brain needs to process and organize all kinds of sensory information, just as his body needs all kinds of food to function best. His tactile sense provides information about texture, shape, density, pressure, temperature, and other attributes of the world.

Nature's plan is simple: let the senses, working in sync, do the teaching. For children whose sensory processing develops typically, learning through messy play is pleasant and interesting. They know how to get the just-right amount to satisfy their neurological system. Some children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), however, may seem never to get enough tactile experiences; they crave more, more, more. Others may have tactile overresponsivity (or defensiveness), causing them to avoid touching and being touched. Whether seekers or avoiders, kids with SPD need tactile activities just as much as typical kids do.

When we encourage tactile experiences, we do more than provide vital nourishment for children's maturing brains. We do more than offer the unadulterated fun of molding mud pies. We also open the way that may become their preferred route to learning. Just as the photographer Ansel Adams took the visual route, the composer Mozart the aural, and the sculptor Rodin the tactile, so each of us chooses one favorite mode.

What if Rodin's babysitter didn't let him get his hands dirty because he'd soil the upholstery? What if Julia Child's mother kept her out of the kitchen because she'd spill flour? Or Jacques Cousteau's father told him to read instead of lingering in the bathtub? Or the pope advised Gregor Mendel to pray more and spend less time messing with sweet peas? How deprived we all would be!

Rather than deprive our children, let's broaden their sensory input with activities that are S.A.F.E. (Sensory-motor, Appropriate, Fun and Easy). Let's provide tactile sensations of dough, water, clay, glue, rock, mud, sap, earth, paint, feathers and fur. Children thrive when their bodies ingest and digest all kinds of sensory stimuli. They may develop to their greatest potential if they have opportunities to feel rain on their faces, leaves in their hair, goo on their fingers, and mud between their toes.


� Finger-painting on a tray with chocolate pudding. This open-ended, hands-on activity feels as good as it tastes. Next time, offer shaving cream and enjoy the smell and easy clean-up.

� Digging for worms. Handling worms is about as tactile as you can get.

� Going barefoot, lakeside. The differences between firm and squishy, warm and cold, dry and wet are worth investigating.

� Forming rice balls or meatballs.

� Kneading playdough or real dough. Make shapes, people, pretzels, or blobs.

� Ripping paper. Strips of newspaper are useful to line the hamster cage. Strips of construction paper or tissue paper make beautiful collages. Remember that the process, not the product, is the goal.

� Discovering treasures in a Feely Box. (Cut a hand-sized hole in a shoebox lid. Fill the box with lentils, cotton balls, packing peanuts, or sand. Add buttons, shells, uncooked macaroni, or small toys.) The idea is to thrust a hand through the hole and let the fingers do the seeing. No peeking!

� Collecting seeds, pebbles, or shells in an egg carton. Loading up the receptacles and dumping them out is great fun for a very young child. The ability to sort and classify the items comes later.

� Petting the pet. Drying a wet dog, stroking a kitten, providing a finger perch for a parakeet, or hugging a baby are tactile experiences that make a child feel good, inside and out.

Read More About Carol Kranowitz and her world famous book "The Out-of-Sync-Child" Here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

5 Tips to Making Daycare Easier on Mommy

One of the most stressful times for a Mom is the First Day of Daycare. Of course, it's stressful! This little person that you love and adore, and have spent every minute with since his birth, is going to be out of sight (but not out of mind) for a long stretch of time...and maybe most days of the week. This is a drastic change for you and for him.
Here are 5 Tips to Making Daycare Easier on Mommy: 1. Make sure you take a tour of the daycare center. The most important thing is feeling that your children are in a safe and loving environment. I never would have been able to leave at all that first day if I thought the staff was not kind and competent. I knew they were because I had taken a tour and then "popped in" several more times before deciding to make this my daycare center. Look for a center that allows "pop-ins" and doesn't mind it. This is the most obvious sign that they are not hiding anything. Most centers have cameras also. If you don't want to go down to your child's room during the day but want to see them, you might be able to view them through an on or off site camera. This adds a stronger feeling of security and gives you a quick fix!.
2. Take advantage of the Internet. Before I chose this center I went on the Internet and searched for it under the name and town. Several things popped up including a search of the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and a few comments Moms had written on their blogs. All were positive comments except for one who thought she didn't get paid enough when she worked there. You don't want to be surprised to find out about some "scandal" that happened at the place you're leaving your child. DO THIS BEFORE YOU SIGN ANY PAPERWORK!
3. Talk to the teacher. Right up front I told the teacher that I was a pain in the butt and nervous about leaving my kids there. She didn't huff and puff or even roll her eyes. Instead she gave me the phone number to the classroom and said "Call anytime you want to know what they're doing." Wow, great answer! I did call when I wanted but it was less and less as I realized that they were in such good hands.
4. Use the drop off time to discuss any issues. In the morning when you drop off your child the teacher will come over and say hello. Use that time to discuss ANY issues. We had to talk about diaper rash, eating times and even requested that they get a snack before coming home. It was all no problem and taken care of right away. I found out that the teacher had lots of good advice for us as well!
5. Observe your child when they don't know you're there. This was the thing that made me feel the best. Since our facility had cameras I used to go there at lunch in the beginning and watch them. It felt so good to see them playing and laughing and making new friends. This just reinforced to me that they were happy and being well cared for. By the way, the teachers didn't know when we were observing. I think that was a great thing.
Some of us want our children in daycare and for others it's just the reality of the family situation. No matter what we all want to be sure our children are happy, safe, and loved. By taking some precautions before signing up and then taking a few small actions once your child is in daycare, you too will develop a confidence and peace to allow you to feel good about dropping them off. Afterall, what's better than when you show up to get them and they run to you to show you the paper pumpkin that they made?
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