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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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Coping With and Preventing Nightmares

by Maxine
Posted September 5 2011 03:05pm
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When your child is screaming and crying in fright it can break your heart. All you want to do is comfort and soothe her, but the best way to handle the situation will depend on whether she’s having a nightmare or night terror. So how do you cope and how do you keep this from happening in the first place?

It can seem like nightmares and night terrors come out of nowhere, but both are more likely to happen when your child is under emotional stress. This can include teething, starting daycare, having a new baby brother or sister, going on a sleepover or having a new babysitter. Sometimes scary TV shows or movies can set the stage for a night terror or nightmare. If your child has a tendency to have nightmares or night terrors, or is under some emotional stress, here are some steps you can take to prevent them:

  • Spend some extra quality time with your child during the day.
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep and keeps a regular bedtime.
  • Don’t allow your child to become over-tired.
  • Make an effort to keep noise, activity and light levels low near bedtime.
  • Help your child draw pictures or write a story about their dream and develop a happy ending
  • Avoid making fun of or shaming your child about her fears, her fear is very real to her.

"When your child wakes up from a nightmare, it’s important to provide comfort," says Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert. "Reassure her that it was only a dream and not real. Stay with her until she goes back to sleep and flip on a nightlight if it makes her feel better. Don’t ignore your child’s fears, but don’t get upset about them either. This can make the child even more afraid."

The next day, take some time to talk to your child about problems or worries that she might have. This is a great time for hugs and reassurances that she’s safe and loved. Also, take a look at your bedtime routine and make sure it’s calming with no scary stories or TV. Look for a soothing story and enjoy that together before bed.

Our experts have created a list of ideas to help you prevent nightmares:

  • Make stories and quiet songs part of your bedtime routine, but make sure the topics are not scary.
  • If your child is afraid of monsters, try talking to him about how to solve that problem. Together with your child, jointly inspect under the bed and in the closet to make sure there are no monsters present.
  • Let your child sleep with a night light and the door open as wide as she wants.
  • Always tell your child you're right down the hall, and will make sure that he is safe all night long.
  • Be sure your child has his special blanket or stuffed toy with him to help him return to sleep.

If nightmares or night terrors happen regularly and are affecting your child’s sleep, be sure to talk to your health care provider about this.

Here is more on nightmares and night terrors

Have you dealt with nightmares? How did you cope? What helped? Share your stories with other parents in the comment section below.

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The Association of Early Childhood Educators - Ontario

by Maxine
Posted September 9 2011 10:07am
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AECEO - the professional Association for Early Childhood Educators in Ontario.

 

Throughout its history, the AECEO has organized and administered important developments in Early Childhood Education (ECE) in the areas of training, public awareness, certification, equivalency, networking, professional development and recognition for the profession.

To AECEO’s mission is to serve and act on behalf of early childhood educators in Ontario by:

  • Supporting the professional growth of early childhood educators through the provision and pro-motion of ongoing professional development, training and best practices;
  • Advocating on behalf of the profession;
  • Promoting and supporting quality early learning and care as an integral part of a child’s healthy development;
  • Disseminating research, educational resources and topical information about early learning and care to the public, governments and other related professionals;
  • Coordinating opportunities for communication and networking among early childhood educators and others interested in early childhood education and care;
  • Promoting and supporting research and advancement in the field of early childhood education and care;
  • Building capacity and leadership between the profession, communities and stakeholder groups to advocate for children and families;
  • Making known to parents and the general public the value and importance of early childhood education and early childhood educators, and;
  • Facilitating certification and supporting equivalency of early childhood educators

Visit them at www.aeceo.ca for more information.

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Cooking with Your Toddler

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 12:34pm
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Cooking is an activity that toddlers can enjoy. The following Comfort, Play & Teach tips provide ways to share with children the comforting power of foods, the fun of creating a meal and the science of cooking and eating healthy.

Heart Comfort

Turn a weekend morning into something special by making breakfast with your child. Use everyone's favourite breakfast foods and let him feel good about contributing to the happiness of others.

Prepare hot chocolate in the evening and savour it together while talking or reading a book so that you can both unwind and spend a pleasant moment together.

Ask your child to help you with simple tasks in the kitchen and show him that his help is valued. This will help him build confidence and self-esteem.

Star Play

Let your child express and develop her creativity, e.g., invent a new recipe together and serve it to the whole family.

Place small amounts of different ingredients such as flour, sugar, vanilla extract, or jam in containers, and make each other guess their contents by exploring their smell, taste, or texture.

Together, make meals more attractive and fun by arranging food in playful shapes and configurations that you can then enjoy eating together.

triangle Teach

Demonstrate basic science concepts, e.g., when dough is cooked, it goes from a soft state to a hard state; when solid chocolate is heated, it melts into a liquid.

Encourage healthy eating habits by cooking wholesome foods with your child and explaining what foods are rich in the things that are good for our bodies such as vitamins, proteins, and minerals.

Teach your child about counting and quantities, e.g., when making pancakes, we use two eggs and we measure 2 cups of flour.

 

Spending time in the kitchen with your toddler is a great way to incorporate Comfort, Play & Teach into every day. Visit our Activity Centre for a list of activities that you can do with your child.

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