July/Aug. 2011 - Developing Fine & Gross Motor Skills in Your Child
CF Staff Report
But what is the right age-specific physical activity for healthy brain development and healthy bodies? Early motor skills form the foundation for early learning and language development. It can be as simply as exercising our children’s legs and helping them to jump up and down and roll around…being physical rather than just sitting in toddler chairs.
Also, physical education forms the basis for later sport, dance, exercise and physical activities.
Learning to care for one's health begins early and continues throughout life. Parents and caregivers should encourage healthy practices in daily routines by teaching safety and protecting children from injury, providing nourishing foods, and facilitating ways for infants and children to be active and stay fit.
There are good books at the local library on early children development and physical exercise that you can take out and read for free. Read and share with friends, or set up a play group with other Moms of toddlers who also want to focus on physical activity of the children, together.
Early guidance can help a child develop and grow normally, and have the energy to engage in learning activities. Teaching children healthy habits such as healthy food choices, hand washing, oral health practices and recognition and avoidance of safety hazards sets the foundation for a continued active and healthy lifestyle. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your pediatrician or the staff at your local health facility.
We know from experts that the physical activity of infants and young children support brain development and the child's ability to become a successful learner, too.
Children use their bodies to explore their physical world. Early motor skills form the foundation for early learning and language development. "All children birth to age five should engage in daily physical activity that promotes health related fitness and movement skills,” according to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.
Children are enthusiastic about moving their bodies in different ways. They are eager to demonstrate their strength, balance, muscles and coordination skills. Take them to the playground, and encourage their activity.
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July/Aug. 2011 - Understanding Speech and Language Development in Young Children
By Lou Phelps
Identification of children at risk for delay may lead to interventions, increasing chances for improvement. However, screening for speech and language delay is not widely practiced in primary care according to the department. And so, the department undertook a study to determine the strengths and limits of evidence about the effectiveness of selecting, testing, and managing children with potential speech and language delay in the course of routine primary care by pediatricians.
The most consistently reported risk factors include a family history of speech and language delay and learning difficulties, male sex, and perinatal factors.
The study concluded that there was no clear screening process yet developed. But, the researchers concluded that speech and language development is considered a useful indicator of a child’s overall development and cognitive ability by experts and is related to school success.
Also, identification of children at risk for developmental delay or related problems may lead to intervention services and family assistance at a young age when chances for improvement are best. This rationale supports preschool screening for speech and language delay, or primary language impairment/disorder, as a part of routine well child care – more needs to be done by pediatricians.
Speech and language development in children is a dynamic process. Language encompasses the understanding, processing, and production of communication. Language has been described as a code made up of rules that include what words mean, how to make new words, and how to combine words together. Understanding what word combinations are best in what situations is also part of the language code.
Expressive language delay may exist without receptive language delay but often they occur together in children as a mixed expressive/receptive language delay. Some children also have disordered language. Language problems can involve difficulty with grammar (syntax), words or vocabulary (semantics), the rules and system for speech sound production (phonology), units of word meaning (morphology) and the use of language particularly in social contexts (pragmatics).
Speech problems may include stuttering or dysfluency, articulation disorders, or unusual voice quality. Language and speech problems can exist together or by themselves.
Preschool children with speech and language delay may be at increased risk for learning disabilities once they reach school age. They may have difficulty reading in grade school, exhibit poor reading skills at age 7 or 8, and have difficulty with written language, in particular. This may lead to overall academic underachievement, and, in some cases, lower IQ scores that may persist into young adulthood.
As adults, children with phonological difficulties may hold lower skilled jobs than their non-language impaired siblings. In addition to persisting speech and language related underachievement (verbal, reading, spelling), language delayed children have also shown more behavior problems and impaired psychosocial adjustment.
Assessing children for speech and language delay and disorders can involve a number of approaches, although there is no uniformly accepted screening technique for use in the primary care setting, but concerns should arise if there are no verbalizations by the age of one year, if speech is not clear, or if speech or language is different from that of other children of the same age.
A specific diagnosis is most often made by a specialist utilizing a battery of instruments. Once a child has been diagnosed with a speech and language delay, interventions may be prescribed based on individual needs.
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April 2011 - Playdate Tips to Keep Toddlers Happy and Busy
When the weather keeps children inside, clever moms need to get creative to keep toddlers and preschoolers from going stir crazy. Experts agree that screen time is not the answer: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 2 years old watch no television and that those older than 2 watch no more than one to two hours a day of quality programming.
So what's the answer?
Arranging a playdate is a great first step. Whether they consist of activities for side-by-side play or group play and interaction, playdates encourage the development of social and communication skills and, even better, break up the day by offering something new.
But instead of inviting over the entire neighborhood, Heather Flett and Whitney Moss, co-authors of Babble.com's No. 4 "Most Useful" parenting blog, RookieMoms.com, and the book The Rookie Mom's Handbook: 250 Ideas of Things to do With (and Without!) Your Baby recommends keeping it small. They say try mini playdates.
“A playdate with two or three young children max is the optimal number for socialization without intimidation,” says Flett. “Any more than that and you've got a circus on your hands, and worse yet, your child can get more overwhelmed than engaged.”
Ready to play? Here are tips to help guide the fun:
• Empower your child. Involve your child in planning activities. Show him how his favorite toys – that may be harder to share – are being safely tucked away.
• Keep it short and sweet. Parents know better than most that variety is the spice of life; keep playdates to an hour until attention spans grow with your child. A great Rookie Moms tip: Establish the end time before the play even begins to accommodate nap times, dinner prep or errands.
• Provide easy-access toys. Children should dictate the flow of playtime but moms can provide icebreakers. Moss suggests that moms plan activities where everyone gets to hold something and feel as if they have a role and purpose in the play. One great idea, she says, is to dump out a bucket of DUPLO bricks in the middle of the play table or floor. The larger bricks are better for little hands and encourage individual creation or group building projects. Moss' children especially love when she gives them a challenge to guide their play, such as, “Who can build the tallest tower?” or “Let's see if we can make a little village.”
“No matter their age or skill level, giving children a bucket of bricks allows them to find a fun and engaging way to play in his or her own way,” says Birthe Jensen, a preschool guru from LEGO Systems. "The versatility of DUPLO gives so many ways to play, and not only will children hone critical skills like hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and shape and color recognition, they are building creativity and confidence. It's fun to see where their imaginations take them."
• Feed the animals. Encourage little guests to eat at the table but if the kids wander off, the RookieMoms suggest that drier snacks like crackers or raisins will help keep the play area (somewhat) clean.
• Don't forget to clean up. Assign each child a specific task. You will have much more success with asking "Can you put all the blocks back in a basket?" than "Can you help me clean up?"
Beyond playdates, other ways to break up foul weather days include:
• Freeze dance: Boogie to favorite music – when music stops, children freeze into funny poses;
• Pillow forts: Throw a sheet over a card table and fill with pillows, books, furry friends and even a flashlight;
• Dress up: Pull out mommy and daddy clothes, Halloween costumes and giggle over gear like goggles, aprons, purses and more;
• Or, plan an outing to the library for storytime.
Whatever your day brings, don't forget to mix it up. A busy child is a happy child.
Source: ARA Content
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FEB. 2011 - What’s Funny to a Toddler?
Dylan is busy in the bathtub, trying on a variety of "hats." First, it's the little bucket he uses as a bath toy. Then it's his washcloth, then his rubber duck. He finds all this very funny. But when his dad takes the rubber duck and balances it on his own head, the giggles really get going.
Sounds like a typical bath time routine, but Dylan isn't just getting clean — he's starting to develop a sense of humor. It's a beneficial quality to have. Experts say a well-developed sense of humor can boost a person's immune system, contribute to a more optimistic outlook on life and increase self-esteem.
What's more, research shows that a sense of humor is learned, not inherited. From a very young age we all have the capacity to laugh; kids as young as 9 months old may begin to understand physical or visual "jokes." Toddlers are willing recipients of all we have to teach them about the pleasures of humor.
So, if you put your child's pants on your head or diaper the teddy bear, you're likely to get an uproarious response. Anything that disrupts a pattern or expectation is funny to a toddler. Try removing something from its usual place — put a stuffed animal in the cabinet with the dishes, for instance. "How did this get here?" you might ask your child. Or wear a pair of their shoes on your hands as puppets and do a little song-and-dance routine.
You might already have books on your shelf that use this device — ones that focus on something surprising or obviously out of place, like hippos wearing purple boots or frogs who go ice skating.
Visual humor is also very funny to toddlers. You can make faces, put on a funny hat or knock yourself on the head with a pillow and pretend to fall over — any kind of broad slapstick will delight toddlers.
Some people seem naturally gifted when it comes to a sense of humor. But what if you don't consider yourself a natural? Here are two easy ways all parents can develop a child's sense of humor:
1. Be open and playful.
2. Be willing to laugh yourself.
Toddlers are very physical about everything. There are few better ways to make a child laugh then to chase and catch him or her (funnier still: when you try to catch your toddler and "can't").
Perennial favorite peek-a-boo also continues to amuse toddlers. You can always refine the game — try encouraging your child to "hide" under a scarf or blanket while you "search," then react with surprise when he or she emerges ("Where's Will? I can't see him. Oh, there he is!").
Other fun games you can play include:
• This Little Piggy: Pull off your child's socks for this nursery rhyme, and conclude with a rousing bout of tickling.
• Silly Billy Loves His Gilly? Toddlers love rhyming sounds, especially funny rhyming names. Use your child's name to make up nonsensical chants — encourage your child to follow along and make up his or her own rhymes.
• Row, Row, Row Your...Car! Try making up funny lyrics to familiar songs. Encourage your child by singing the song "incorrectly" once, then pausing for him or her to fill in a "wrong" word the next time around.
Repetition is big with toddlers, so you'll probably hear these same jokes more than once. Be sure to give your child a big laugh — even if you've heard this one many, many times before!
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NOV. 2010 - Using Effective Timeouts
By Jody Johnston Pawel
Most adults have the mistaken idea that the whole point of sending children to timeout is to make the child suffer for their misbehavior. "You go to your room (or chair) and think about what you did." The tone of voice usually implies, "and you suffer." Imposing suffering only brings on more resentment and power struggles. Effective discipline, however, teaches children lessons from their poor behavior choices, rather than punishing them. If you want timeouts to be constructive, try following these guidelines:
• Develop a plan in advance. Teach children during a happy time about the value of a cooling-off period. Say, "When you feel like you're going to lose control, you can go [specify the place] and do something to make yourself feel better. Then, when you feel better, come out and we can work on a solution."
• Teach children how to regain self-control. Suggest things the child can do to calm down while in timeout. Older children can help decide where to go and what they can do to help themselves calm down.
• Allow the child to play. Many parents are upset when they find their child playing during timeout, but it's actually a good sign that the child has regained self-control. If they are ready to play, children might also be ready to do some problem solving.
• Select a location for the timeout. Some children calm down faster when they are alone and in a quiet place. Other children have too much energy to be forced to sit still. Some children become more out-of-control and hurtful when they are forced to spend timeouts alone. These children can cool off in the same room as other people, as long as they aren't disruptive.
Some parents hesitate to use a child's room for fear the child will view the bedroom as a prison. If the timeout is initiated kindly and the goal is to give the child and you some quiet space, children won't see it as punishment. If you feel the child will be destructive, plan ahead and remove or put objects you don't want destroyed out of reach.
• If you force a child to stay in a chair or room, it shifts the focus from what they did and their responsibility for calming down to who is in power. This turns the timeout into a punishment, which removes its effectiveness.
• Present timeout as a choice. A child can choose to settle down or take some time out. Suggest the timeout in a kind and firm manner, followed by the encouraging instructions to come back when the child is ready.
• Avoid timers. Use the child's ability to regain self-control or willingness to act appropriately to decide how long a timeout should last. Timers often turn timeouts into power struggles. If children have calmed down and are ready to return but parents won't let them "come out," it often escalates the situation. If children return before they have calmed down, firmly but kindly return them to the timeout and reemphasize the purpose is to cool off. Describe the behavior you want to see that shows they are calm.
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