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The benefits of play and your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted August 5 2011 04:34pm
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Children benefit from playing alone, with siblings, with other children and, most importantly, with you. Adults are special partners in play. You encourage your child to concentrate, to try new things and to deal with frustration. Parents are also partners in play when they make their home safe for play and provide a choice of things to play with that are appropriate for each stage of development.

 

Blocks, boxes, pails, water, playdough, dolls and ordinary things around the house, like pillows and plastic containers are wonderful stimulating playthings. These materials can be used in different ways and at different ages. Many toys advertised on TV have only one use, so they limit the imagination, rather than encourage it. Such toys can be expensive, may soon be forgotten and do little to help your child's development. On the other hand, some toys have many uses and "grow with your child" for a long time.

When playing with your children, let them choose what to play with. Children need to be leaders in their own play, so try not to take over their games or activities. Let your child tell you what he wants you to do, and very gradually add new stimulation, like more things for him to play with. Research has shown that giving a child too many new things to do or play with at once can be overwhelming, and can make learning more difficult.

 

How often do you get down on the floor and play with your preschooler? Do you have tips for other parents on how to work playtime in their busy schedules? Share your comments below!

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Preparing your child for kindergarten

by Maxine
Posted August 29 2011 04:19pm
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As your child's first day of school creeps up, you will both experience different feelings. You're excited that he's old enough to start school. At the same time, you wonder if he will adjust to the new routine.

Your child may also be excited. But if she's never spent time away from you she may feel a bit overwhelmed by the prospect. Similarly, for a child who is already in a childcare setting, spending part of her day in junior or senior kindergarten may pose some new challenges. A new and unfamiliar routine and teacher may take some getting used to.

Whether it's your child's first time away from you or he's making the transition from childcare to school, here are some things you can do to help make the move easier.

  1. Talk about the new routine.
    Talk to your caregiver about the new routine when school starts. Share this with your child so he is prepared for the change.
  2. Talk about what won't change.
    Prior to school starting, both you and your caregiver can talk about kindergarten, providing reassurance by reminding your child about all the things that will still be the same.
  3. Visit the school in advance.
    If possible, during the summer, visit the school your child will be attending. If there is a playground, you may even want to spend some time there letting her play to become familiar with the environment.
  4. Find out the name of your child's teacher.
    School administrative offices are often open before the first day of school and may be able to provide you with some information.
  5. Ease your child into class.
    Ask the school if you can visit during the first week perhaps staying for the first hour or until your child seems settled.
  6. Reassure your child that you will be back.
    Make sure your child knows who will pick her up when school finishes. An anxious child may want to know exactly when that will be. Offer a cue from the routine, for instance: "After you clean up the room you will hear the bell ring and you will know it's time to go home. We'll be waiting to pick you up."
  7. Be enthusiastic about school.
    Talk about the wonderful things he will be doing at school – making friends, different kinds of art and play activities and of course learning. This should be done at home with you as well as with your child's caregiver.
  8. Help your child find friends from school.
    Find other children in the neighbourhood attending school. Your caregiver can help. Talk about them noting how much they enjoy school. Schedule some play dates in advance and have at least one familiar face.
  9. Share your own stories.
    Talk about some of your own stories about school – what was it like for you when you started. If there are older siblings have them join in also.
  10. Get ready together.
    Include her in the preparation for school. This can be as simple as deciding on snacks to send each day or buying school supplies. Including her will make her feel that this day is special and it really is all about her.
  11. Share the excitement of growing up.
    Starting school is often seen as a sign of being a "big boy". Talk to your child about how he feels about school. Being a "big boy" may be just what he wants or the prospect may be overwhelming. Be sensitive to his feelings and gently continue to talk about the wonderful things that happen at school.
  12. Create a neighborhood walking bus.
    If there are other children in the neighborhood who your child knows and will be attending the same school you may want to walk to school together giving a sense of community to your child even away from his home.
  13. Make a special exhibit at home.
    Set up a special place at home where your child will be able to display work that comes home from school. Even before school starts you can decorate this space together

The transition to kindergarten can be hard for you and your child. Being prepared and explaining to your child some of the things he can expect will give you both some peace of mind.



Video Alert!
You can also watch our video “How to ease your child's transition to school” to learn more.


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Helping your preschooler adjust to a new daycare/school

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 01:51pm
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Adjusting to a new setting takes time. Your preschooler needs to know that you are on his team as he moves towards being comfortable in a new daycare or school.

Here are several ways to help your child adjust to a new daycare or school:

Let your child know that you realize change isn't easy and that you know it takes time to adjust to new places, people and things.

Be supportive and encouraging, not impatient or frustrated.

Explore the new area, or new daycare or school with your child in advance of going there on the first day.

Along with your child, get involved with new groups and activities at daycare or school. This will help you feel more connected to your child's new situation, too.

Help your child find the playgroups and activities she has always liked doing, and try to get her involved, outside of daycare or school.

Where possible, allow your child to stay connected with friends from his old daycare or school.

Ask your child what you can do to help - children often have great ideas about how you can help them feel better.

It would be a mistake to let your child stay home from a new daycare or school just because he is afraid and doesn't want to go. But don't force your child to get involved in outside activities too soon - he'll let you know when he is ready. And try not to say things like, "We moved three months ago - aren't you over it yet?" That will just make your child feel worse.

If you find that your child is sad, withdrawn, angry, acting out, doing unusually poorly in the new daycare or school, or showing physical symptoms of anxiety and things don't seem to be getting better even long after the move, consult your child's daycare provider or school teacher to see if they are noticing the same behaviour, and then consult your child's physician.

Have you had to move your preschooler to a new school or daycare? How did she handle the transition? Share your thoughts below!

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Preparing your preschooler for the arrival of a new baby

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 07:14pm
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When you’re expecting another child you want to prepare your preschooler for the changes that a new sibling will bring.

Our experts have created some tips to help you make the transition a little smoother.

  • Let your child know that the baby is coming two or three months before the birth. Talk about the changes that will take place in the household and answer any questions she may have about birth and reproduction in a way that suits her age.
  • Assure your child that you will love him just the same.
  • Make your child feel important by saying, "You're going to be a big brother (or sister)." Let your child know he has a role and a relationship with the new baby.
  • Have your child help in choosing a name and in picking out baby clothes. Let your child feel the baby kicking.
  • Take your child to visit someone else's new baby so he can learn what to expect and get used to the size and sounds of an infant.
  • If you are the mother, encourage your partner to spend more time with your child before the birth so she becomes used to that before you get too busy with the baby.
  • If your child is going to be moved out of a crib and into a bed, it's best to do this long before the new baby arrives. This gives your older child time to become attached to the "new bed." This way he won't think the move out of a favourite sleeping place (the crib) was because of the new baby.
  • Read children's books that are about new babies to your child. 

How did your preschooler react when you became pregnant? When you brought home the baby? Share your story with other parents by leaving a comment below.

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