How is play good for your toddler?

by phoenix
Posted January 4 2012 01:40pm
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When children play, they are practicing skills in every area of development: thinking, solving problems, talking, moving, sensing, cooperating and making moral judgments. This natural form of learning is very similar to the real world, because instead of learning one thing at a time, children have to learn - and use - several ideas and objects all at once. Playing is also fun - it makes children happy, and leads to easier and more effective learning.

In the early years, children explore or play by doing the same thing over and over again. For example, toddlers make block towers, just to knock them down. This repeated practice helps learning and builds confidence. Children learn what objects are like, and what they can do with them. They are beginning to make sense of their world.

As children grow, they add make-believe to their play. When children pretend, they are showing what they know. For example, when they put a block to their ear and say "Hello," children are showing that an object can be a make-believe telephone, and that a telephone is used for talking to people. When children build a castle or an airport, they have to think about their goal, and figure out how to make the castle or airport. That involves being creative and solving problems.

In pretend play, children are making sense of the world, trying out things they've learned and seen, and thinking about their feelings. They sort out fantasy and reality. You can tell a lot about what your child is feeling and thinking just by watching her play.

Around the time your child begins school, games with rules become part of play. Games encourage children to use strategy, logic and moral judgments to follow the rules. Board games like Snakes and Ladders, card games and team sports are all games with rules that help children learn to take turns, negotiate, problem-solve and get along with others.

Video Alert!
Watch our Toddler Playtime video to learn how to incorporate Comfort, Play & Teach into the playtime you spend with your toddler.

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Managing Your Picky Eating Preschooler

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 10:10pm
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Some children are picky eaters. They don’t like broccoli just because its green or they don’t like mushrooms because they’re mushy. Here are some suggestions for improving your child's eating habits.

First of all, don't call your child a "picky eater," or he may become one forever. Children's eating habits can develop and change for a lot of reasons. Their tastes are naturally evolving.

Have a wide variety of healthy foods available, recognizing that children do have different tastes.

Set a good example by following healthy eating habits yourself, including having a good breakfast. If your child won't eat breakfast, make sure she has nutritious, high-energy snacks for getting to and from daycare or school.

Provide a variety of foods rich in calcium, not just milk. Include foods such as calcium-fortified orange juice, cheese, yogurt or calcium-fortified soy milk. Some children dislike milk.

Try to involve your child in planning, shopping for and preparing meals. Even two- and three-year olds can do this in a simple way.

Allow your child to help you make his favourite meals from time to time, even if it's not something you really enjoy.

Try not to make mealtime a battleground by nagging, threatening or arguing about your child's eating.

Try not to criticize your child's choices, or say that some foods are "bad." Instead, make sure that the foods offered are all healthy choices. Be creative.

Be patient. Your child's tastes in food will continue to change.

If, however, you feel that your child's eating habits are making her unhealthy, consult your child's physician.

Is your preschooler a picky eater? How do you get her to eat healthy? Leave a comment below and tell us about the experiences you’ve had.

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Making childcare easier for your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 04:40pm
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To make the transition smooth from home to childcare, it's important to build a relationship with your child's caregiver and keep the lines of communication open. Talk about your child's likes and dislikes, any particular fears (such as thunder), how your child is behaving, what your child usually does or likes to do during the day, any problems you are currently facing, and so on. You should also share anything you're concerned about regarding your child's behaviour at home.

Here are several ways to make leaving your child with a caregiver easier and less painful for everyone.

If possible, start leaving your child with the new caregiver for short periods of time, at least two weeks before you need full-time care.

Stay with your child and the caregiver for a little while each day, for the first few days, to help your child adjust. This will also allow you to learn more about the childcare. Remember, you and the caregiver are a team, working in the best interests of your child. So try to stay in touch regularly.

Try leaving a favourite toy or blanket or a picture of you with your child. These can be comforting when you are gone.

Before leaving, be sure to explain to your child that you'll be back. Do so confidently, without appearing anxious or sad.

Create daily rituals, such as kissing three times and waving good-bye together, when you're leaving. After a while, these rituals will give your child a sense of predictability over your leaving.

Accept and be sensitive to your child's display of emotions, such as crying or purposely ignoring you, when you are leaving. Stay calm if your child acts scared or angry. Acknowledge the fear so she knows it is okay to have these feelings.

When you are leaving your child at child care, here are some things to avoid:

  • Never make fun of your child, if he cries when you leave.
  • Never sneak out - an upset because you're leaving is much better than an upset because you suddenly disappeared without warning.
  • Try to avoid going right back in, even if you've forgotten something. This can be confusing and distressing for your child.
  • Never force a shy, anxious or "slow to warm up" child to jump into a situation. Let him stay close to you until he feels comfortable enough to join in.

If you find that your child isn't adjusting well to being left in childcare, be sure to talk with the caregiver. Remember, you are a team.

The way children respond when they are left with a childcare provider for the first time varies. What was your experience like when you first left your preschooler at childcare? Share your story by leaving a comment below!


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

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Taking sign language classes with your baby

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 07:26pm
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Creators of sign language programs say that signing is easier for your baby to learn than spoken language. They also claim signing can reduce the frustration that may occur around a child's first birthday when they try to express themselves but don't have the words.

But more research needs to be done before we can say for sure if using sign language with your baby is a good idea. Whether signing will help or hinder your hearing child's development has not been studied well enough to say.

If you do want to try sign language with your baby, classes, books and videos are widely available. The signs used in many of these programs are similar to those used by members of the deaf community. Parents usually choose just a small number of phrases or words to sign with their child. To try to make early communication easier, they often pick words that come up in everyday family activities, like "milk," "more," "Mom," and "Dad."

Whether you choose to use sign language or not, interacting with your baby and spending time together doing activities you both enjoy is important. One thing is for sure, your baby will benefit from spending time with you one-on-one.

Content Provided by The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network.

Have you ever taken sign languages classes with your baby? Did you find them helpful? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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