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Learning about diverse holidays is important

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/crib-christmas-crib-figures-children-68895/

 Holiday celebrations can be wonderful opportunities for children to learn about the traditions and values that are cherished parts of people's lives. But many early childhood professionals wonder what holidays to celebrate in the program or classroom and how to respect the cultures represented by all children. Many parents, too, wonder why programs celebrate specific holidays or why they discourage any celebration at all.

NAEYC believes that decisions about what holidays to celebrate are best made together by teachers, parents, and children. Families and staff are more comfortable when both have expressed their views and understand how a decision has been reached. The important thing for all to remember is that when planning holiday activities, the rules of good practice continue to apply: Are the activities meaningful to the children? Are their needs and interests being met? Is the activity a valuable use of children's time?

Teachers may survey families at the beginning of the year to determine what holidays to celebrate. They may even ask the children to create their own holiday to help them learn the concepts that underlie such valued traditions. In any case, holiday celebrations are just one way for programs and families to work together to create developmentally and culturally appropriate learning experiences.

Here are some signs of good practice in celebrating holidays: 

Parents and teachers ask themselves why children should learn about this holiday. Is it developmentally appropriate for those in the group? Why is it important to specific children and families?

Activities are connected to specific children and families in the group. This helps children understand holiday activities in the context of people's daily lives. Children should have the chance to explore the meaning and significance of each holiday.

Children are encouraged to share feelings and information about the holidays they celebrate. This will help them make the distinction between learning about another person's holiday rituals and celebrating one's own holidays. Children may participate as "guests" in holiday activities that are not part of their own cultures.

Every group represented in the classroom is honored (both children and staff). This does not mean that every holiday of every group must be celebrated or classrooms would be celebrating all the time! It does mean that once families and programs have decided on what holidays to celebrate, none should be treated as if they are "unusual." Children should recognize that everyone's holidays are culturally significant and meaningful.

Activities demonstrate the fact that not everyone in the same ethnic group celebrates holidays in the same way. Families may provide examples of their own unique traditions.
Curriculum demonstrates respect for everyone's customs. If children are observing different holidays at the same time, the values and traditions of each child's culture should be acknowledged.

Parents and teachers work together to plan strategies for children whose families' beliefs do not permit participation in holiday celebrations. Families should take part in creating satisfactory alternatives for the child within the classroom.

Focus is on meaningful ways to celebrate holidays without spending money. Families may find certain holidays stressful due to the amount of commercialization and the media pressure to buy gifts. Teachers can help by showing children that homemade costumes and gifts are very special, and celebrating can be joyful without gifts.

To view source and additional information, visit: http://www.pbs.org/kcts/preciouschildren/diversity/read_celebrating.html

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The "literate home" for this age child only needs a few inexpensive materials, but parent involvement is key. Your young child or kindergartner continues to build her language base (understanding and using language) in preparation for learning to read, so she still benefits from lots of talk with adults that helps her learn new words. Young children and kindergartners are beginning to figure out how the written word works, and they are starting to use reading and writing in their daily lives. At this age, having a wide variety of books and writing materials available is crucial.

  • What you need:
  1. Children's Books
  2. Letters
  3. Writing Materials
  4. Reading and Writing Materials for Parents
  5. Props for Pretend Play
  6. CDs
  7. Videos
  • What You Can Do:
  1. Organize a bookshelf for your child's collection.
  2. Set up a writing area for your child.
  3. Talk together about things that interest your child.
  4. Introduce new vocabulary words when you talk with your child.
  5. Continue your daily read-aloud routine.
  6. Point to the words when you read aloud.
  7. Listen to your child "read".
  8. Incorporate literacy into outings.
  9. Be a reader and writer yourself. 

To read full article: http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/reading-language/reading-tips/how-to-create-a-literate-home-young-child-and-kindergartner/

baby eating watermelon

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/baby-bite-boy-child-cute-eat-84686/

Dinner time can be the most stressful time of the day if you have a picky eater. It can be hard to find ways to get your kids to try new foods. Maybe you have a child that won’t eat any type of vegetable, or anything green, or no potatoes. It can really be anything that can get some kids to refuse to eat. If it isn’t nugget shaped, I can’t taste good. Right? 

Try these 10 ways to get your kids to try new foods before you try force feeding your child their green beans next time!

  1. Stay calm. The more frustrated you become, the more anxious they will be to try the food.
  2. Try when they’re still hungry. If you limit snacks, then make them try the new food while they are hungry, they may be more willing to try something new.
  3. Just one bite. If it’s something new, don’t force them to eat an entire plate full, as they may become overwhelmed. Ask them to just try one bite. If they like it, they will eat more. If they don’t like it, at least they tried it.
  4. Introduce new things often. Try to make new things often, so the kids get used to trying new things. If they fall into a routine, it may be difficult to get them to try something different when a new food is introduced.
  5. Have them help grow it. If you have a garden, allow the kids to help. If they have helped grow their food, they may be more interested in trying to eat it
  6. Don’t allow them to substitute foods. Yes, it may be easier to allow them to have something else if they throw a fit, but they will never learn they need to try new things. They could end up living on mac & cheese.
  7. Eat new foods yourself. Let your kids see you enjoying whatever new foods are available. If they see they aren’t being forced into something you wouldn’t dare try it may be easier to get them to take a bite. (This one is so hard for me!
  8. Let them pick it out. If you’re at the store and see something you want your kid to try, show it to them and talk it up. Let them choose to put it in the cart. We also try to cook together when we can!
  9.  Do not allow complaining. Make it a known rule. No complaining, at all. When one starts, they will all complain.
  10. Be Patient. It can take 7-10 times of trying a food before you can grow accustomed to the taste. Give it some time and let them try the foods several times before throwing in the hat.

To see full article: http://totallythebomb.com/ways-to-get-your-kids-to-try-new-foods

muddy hands

At present, our culture is overly obsessive about germs, cleanliness, and hygiene. Parents are constantly washing their children’s hands, using antibacterial soap, alcohol tinged wipes or changing them the second they have dirt on their clothes. 
According to Mary Ruebush PhD, author of Why Dirt is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends, the attraction is based on millions of years of evolution.
 Just like any other muscle in our body, the immune system needs to be exercised in order to fully develop and become strong enough to resist illness and disease. Eating dirt as a child turns out to be the ideal training to build your immune system's overall fitness.
 Children who grow up on farms and are exposed to all sorts of bugs, worms and natural elements have demonstrably less allergies and autoimmune problems than urban children who spend most of their time indoors. Playing outside barefoot every now and again and digging in the dirt more often would do wonders for the health of today’s youngsters.
New research says that it is possible that children today are ‘too’ clean, and would be better off sticking to their natural instincts. 
In a 2012 study, researchers tested what would happen to mice if they were bred to lack stomach bacteria and how it would effect their immune system. It found that exposure early in life to microbes helped to train certain immune cells to resist disease later in life. Exposure to those same microbes as an adult did not have the same effect. The immune cells affected were generally those in the lungs and colon due to hyperactivity in T cells. This is similar to that found in humans with asthma. 
The most important point from the research is the idea that during the early years of life there are some crucial biological developments that happen which cannot be recreated later on in life — and building a strong immune system is one of them.
We can now relax and trust that our children will actually be healthier the dirtier they get. Take a deep breath and enjoy watching the joy your child experiences playing in dirt while knowing that they are building their intuitive instincts and a strong immune system.

April is National Poetry Month

In honor of April being National Poetry month, here is a topic on reading poems to your children. 

Young children enjoy many kinds of poems. And as they listen, they hear rhythms, sounds, and language patterns important for literacy development.

 Encourage rhyming. Read a short rhyming poem. As you reread it, stop before reading the second rhyming word to invite your child to finish the rhyme himself. It’s OK if children suggest words that don’t make sense or don’t rhyme.

Learn new words. Read a poem that introduces a new word or uses a familiar word in an unusual way. Ask, “Do you know what this word means? What other words could you use instead?”

Talk about what poems might mean. Some poems describe emotions or moods children have experienced. Others describe nature. Some have more than one meaning. After reading a poem, ask, “What do you think the poet was feeling? Have you ever felt like that?” Or "What do you think the poet was describing?"

Create poems. Discuss interests and feelings. Or go outside to find an inspiration in nature. Write down your child's words as she says them. Offer art materials so your child can illustrate her work. Remember, poems do not have to rhyme and can be about anything at all.

Encourage the poet within your child with these poetry books and ideas.

To view the poetry books as well as the source of article go to: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/reading-writing/read-little-poem

thumbs up

Think back to when you were a child. How often were you told "no"? It probably felt frustrating and discouraging. Think of the children in your classroom now. How often are they told "no"? Are they—and you—able to enjoy your day together if you have to say "no" all the time?

When a classroom environment is set up so that teachers have to constantly say "no" to the children, it is stressful for everyone. The teacher stops being a facilitator of the children's play and learning, and instead becomes a police officer, monitoring what the children can and cannot do. To reduce this stress, a classroom must provide an environment where the children are able to feel successful through opportunities to explore without the limitations of adult expectations.

There are four important parts to a "yes" environment: respect for the child, process instead of product, opportunities for risk-taking, and the teacher's role in the classroom. Being thoughtful and intentional about implementing these qualities in the classroom allows for less stress and more success, for both the children and their teachers.

Read full article at: http://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/2015/creating-a-yes-environment

children with harmonicas

For very young children, music has power and meaning that go beyond words. First, and most important, sharing music with young children is simply one more way to give love and receive love. Music and music experiences also support the formation of important brain connections that are being established over the first three years of life (Carlton 2000). In this article, we explore the many ways that music promotes growth in the various developmental domains and how infant/toddler professionals can use music experiences to support children’s early learning.

Like all the best learning experiences in early childhood, music activities simultaneously promote development in multiple domains. Singing a lullaby while rocking a baby stimulates early language development, promotes attachment, and supports an infant’s growing spatial awareness as the child experiences her body moving in space. Being intentional about integrating music into your program’s daily routines—thinking through, “What do I want the children to learn from this music experience?”—helps you design and choose activities to support specific developmental goals.

child counting numbers

Number sense is one of the most difficult concepts to teach young children. Why? Because it's abstract.                                                                                                                                                 

For children to grasp number sense, they need to understand that an abstract symbol (the number 3 or 8, for example) means an amount or quantity that could apply to anything. They need to learn that the number 7 can stand for the girls in the room, cups in a box, blocks on a table, pieces of a puzzle or how many scrapes they have on their leg. And they need to learn that a 6 stands for fewer things than a 9, even though there's no way to understand that just by looking at the numbers themselves. 

But once children develop number sense, wow! -- their math abilities can really take off!            

Young learners love knowing that numbers can represent everything from a single, little pebble in the palm of their hand to the billions of grains of sand on a beach. For curious children and those who truly understand what numbers and their symbols represent, numbers are like magic!   

To teach number sense to your young child, begin with the numbers 1 to 10 because we use a base 10 system, and these are the numbers that young learners are most familiar with. Try to give your child as many oral -- and visual -- counting experiences as possible during his or her first five years.

Read full article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-palacios/children-making-sense-of-_b_6264096.html

heart of healthy habits

                                      Good habits formed at youth make all the difference. ~Aristotle

Important healthy habits for caregivers to promote from infancy are sensible sleep practices, including consistent bedtime routines and laying infants down to sleep on their backs to safeguard against SIDS. Other lifelong healthy habits include early exposure to books, and general health habits such as healthy eating, frequent hand washing, and good oral hygiene. As with all healthy habits, habits that promote a safer environment, including living smoke-free and using appropriate safety devices in moving vehicles, are largely dependent upon caregivers' modeling. Healthy habits may be viewed on a continuum: a caregiver's healthy habits, the result of a lifetime of practice, are passed on to infants and toddlers, resulting in improved health for the entire family, and for generations to come.

Read full article at: http://medical.gerber.com/nutrition-health-topics/healthy-eating-habits/articles/healthy-habits