Posts Tagged ‘parent’

10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play

March 4, 2015

2girlsOriginally posted here.

1.  Children learn through their play.
Don’t underestimate the value of play. Children learn and develop:

cognitive skills – like math and problem solving in a pretend grocery store

physical abilities – like balancing blocks and running on the playground

new vocabulary – like the words they need to play with toy dinosaurs

social skills – like playing together in a pretend car wash

literacy skills – like creating a menu for a pretend restaurant

2. Play is healthy.
Play helps children grow strong and healthy. It also counteracts obesity issues facing many children today.3. Play reduces stress.
Play helps your children grow emotionally. It is joyful and provides an outlet for anxiety and stress.
4. Play is more than meets the eye.
Play is simple and complex.  There are many types of play: symbolic, sociodramatic, functional, and games with rules-–to name just a few. Researchers study play’s many aspects:  how children learn through play, how outdoor play impacts children’s health, the effects of screen time on play, to the need for recess in the school day.5. Make time for play.
As parents, you are the biggest supporters of your children’s learning. You can make sure they have as much time to play as possible during the day to promote cognitive, language, physical, social, and emotional development.6. Play and learning go hand-in-hand.
They are not separate  activities. They are intertwined. Think about them as a science lecture with a lab. Play is the child’s lab.

7. Play outside.
Remember your own outdoor experiences of building forts, playing on the beach, sledding in the winter, or playing with other children in the neighborhood. Make sure your children create outdoor memories too.
8. There’s a lot to learn about play.
There’s a lot written on children and play. Here are some NAEYC articles and books about play. David Elkind’s The Power of Play (Da Capo, 2007 reprint) is also a great resource.9. Trust your own playful instincts.
Remember as a child how play just came naturally? Give your children time for play and see all that they are capable of when given the opportunity.
10. Play is a child’s context for learning.
Children practice and reinforce their learning in multiple areas during play. It gives them a place and a time for learning that cannot be achieved through completing a worksheet. For example, in playing restaurant, children write and draw menus, set prices, take orders, and  make out checks.  Play provides rich learning opportunities and leads to children’s success and self-esteem.

8 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew

October 8, 2014

Originally posted here.

The parent-teacher relationship is indeed a special one. When you’re both on the same page, you can pave the way for a (hopefully!) smooth school year. But often parents don’t realize it’s their own common misconceptions that are causing bumps in the road. So we asked teachers what they’d tell parents point-blank if they had the chance — and some of their answers might surprise you.

1. “Attending back-to-school night can really help us both.”
It’s not just the same spiel every year. Often, your child’s new teachers will also have new policies and procedures to tell you about. If you miss out, you might not know to look in your kid’s backpack for important papers each day (like information on picture day or the school play) or what sort of homework schedule to expect.

2. “If your kid’s having a bad morning (or a bad week, or a bad month), let me know when you drop him off.”
You don’t have to go into detail, but it can make for an easier day if your child’s teacher knows that he might be feeling a little bit off.

3. “I can tell when your kid isn’t getting enough sleep.”
Teachers are noticing that kids just don’t have bedtimes like they used to. If your kid stays up too late watching TV or playing on the computer, it can affect how he feels and acts during the day.

4. “I buy school supplies (with my own money) for a reason.”
It’s a sad truth, but many schools just don’t provide teachers with the budget they need to help their classroom activities run smoothly. So take care to not lose that sturdy folder (filled with helpful memos) that the teacher sends home with your kid every day. And if he or she asks you to chip in for classrooms supplies, do what you can.

5. “If you have younger kids, you can’t trust them to tell you everything that happens at school.”
So check their backpacks for homework assignments, permission slips, or notes home. And take advantage of parent-teacher conferences to get some undivided time with the teacher.

6. “When your kid gets older, it doesn’t mean you can start being less involved.”
In high school and middle school, you might be tempted to ease off the gas when it comes to checking in on what your child does at school. But teachers report that setting a positive example, and taking interest in your kid’s education, is still critical in the later years.

7. “I work on the weekends.”
If you still believe that teaching is a part-time job, educators would like to remind you that they regularly put in extra long days and catch-up on classroom prep on the weekend.

8.  “You can ask me anything.”
If there’s one thing teachers want from their students’ parents, it’s more communication. Teachers view education as a collaborative process between them and the parent, so if you have a question or concern, definitely speak up! The clearer you are with other, the easier and more productive the year will be.

Working with a Parent with Special Needs

September 10, 2014

Many, many professional nannies work for families whose children have special needs. But what about the situation when the Mom or Dad is actually the family member with a special need? Author and blogger Elizabeth Christy shares tips for nannies on caring for the family as a whole when a parent has chronic pain or illness.

Why Does Mommy Hurt?Originally posted here, by Elizabeth M. Christy

I am a 32 year old mother living with severe chronic pain stemming from autoimmune disease. I am unable to clean my house, care for my garden, and I also need a lot of helping caring for my 3 year old son, Jimmy (pictured with me). As a mom, I want to give him the world- take him to interesting places, go on hikes, pick him up and squeeze him.. but unfortunately, I am routinely unable to do many of even the most basic tasks of parenting. If you work for a family like mine, there are many simple things that you can do to help them; and earn their deepest gratitude and trust in the process.

Take the children on outings.

Children learn by exploring their environment. When a parent you work for has chronic pain or illness, they are likely unable to regularly do “special” activities with their child, or even basics, like simply walking their child to the playground, or pushing them on the swing.  Make outings and “special” trips – family friendly farms, museums, markets, fairs, nature walks.. anything that gets the child out of the house and doing something active!  Take pictures on your phone of the child during the outings.  When you’re done; write a short note about the joyful time the kids had, and share photos.  Hearing about their children’s experiences; even if they were notable to share them, is something that will be treasured and remembered; for years to come.

Teach and encourage organization and picking-up.

Picking up toys is probably the most difficult chore for a parent with chronic pain or illness.  Even if they have a house cleaning service, children, as you know, can tear a room apart in a matter of minutes!  Better yet, teach and encourage the children to pick up after themselves; even small toddlers are able to help clean up.  That way, you will give the parents a gift that will last! Click here for a guide on how toddlers can help out around the house. *Pulling up weeds may also make a parent weep tears of gratitude!

Educate yourself, listen and support.

Google the condition that the parent has, so you can better understand how to help them.  Demonstrate your support: People with chronic pain and illness often are afraid to be seen as “complainers,” or to be judged to be “a burden,” or “lazy.” Make it clear that you believe their pain is real (chronic pain is often invisible; the parent may look completely healthy). Ask them how they’re feeling that day, and if there’s anything special that you can do to help them. Even if they don’t specify anything, keep asking; once they gain your trust, they will be more likely to open up.  Having someone that truly listens is pure gold to someone with chronic pain or illness.  Support the children. Encourage them to talk about their parents illness; ask them how they feel, and validate them. The children may have feelings of sadness, or even anger.  Read them books like “Why Does Mommy Hurt? Helping Children Cope with the Challenges of having a Parent or Caregiver with Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, or Autoimmune Disease.” Opening up communication in the family about a parent’s condition is another gift that could last a lifetime!

10 Tips For Easing Separation Anxiety

August 28, 2014


Originally posted here.

There comes a point in every child’s life when she’s forced to face the world without the parents she depends upon so fiercely. While painful for everyone involved, this rite of passage is an essential one along the road to a healthy, independent adulthood. In the meantime, however, managing the worst aspects of separation anxiety can be a trial for kids, parents and childcare providers alike. Whether you’re a parent forced to leave your hysterical child behind for the day or a childcare provider looking for ways to ease the worst of a child’s pain, these tips can help make managing separation anxiety easier and more effective.

  • Practice Separation – If a parent is returning to work after a long absence, introducing their child to a preschool environment or getting ready for the first day of kindergarten, it’s wise to start practicing separation on a small scale well in advance of the big change. In the weeks or even months leading up to a shift in routine, start talking to your child about what she can expect and practicing small separations. Leaving her in the care of a grandparent while you go to the grocery store or running errands while she’s home with a trusted adult are small ways you can help prepare her.
  • Create a Goodbye Ritual – Establishing a goodbye ritual and a complimenting reunion ritual helps your child to not only prepare for an imminent separation, but also to realize that there are two sides to the situation. If you’re performing the goodbye aspect, she knows the reunion is coming. As a result, she may feel more confident that you will be back for her.
  • Discourage Lingering – Childcare providers and educators helping kids to overcome separation anxiety and parents preparing to leave their little ones alone with a new childcare provider should discourage lingering or bargaining. Your child needs to learn that you’ll be back for him, which is often the root of his fears. In order to do that, he needs to know the boundaries. Stalling and lingering only lengthens the anxiety he feels over an impending departure, and teaches him that there is leeway in the routine.
  • Stay Upbeat and Confident – When a parent is tearful or anxious, they telegraph those feelings to a child, who can easily pick up on them. If you’re scared, your child knows that she should feel afraid, too. Even if you’re miserable, keep a smile on your face and stay cheerful when you say your goodbyes.
  • Use Comfort Items – Some kids are better able to soothe themselves when they have a beloved plush toy or a favorite blanket. Whatever your child’s comfort item is, be sure that he has access to it when he’s upset and anxious.
  • Be Honest With Kids – Telling a child that you’ll “be right back” when you’re heading off for a full day of work leads your child to believe that you should be back any moment for her, and that you’re late or have forgotten her. Be honest with your child, telling her that she can expect you to return at a certain time and that you’ll be back for her at the end of the day.
  • Build a Reliable Routine – Part of separating without pain or overwhelming anxiety is the knowledge that you’ll be back, just like always. In order to help your child process that, make sure that there’s a reliable routine in place. The more your child knows what to expect and can depend upon each day to resemble the next, the less likely he is to panic.
  • Don’t Get Bogged Down by Guilt – Leaving a howling child in the arms of a relative stranger is never a good feeling, but it’s important to understand that you’re not harming or neglecting your child by leaving her at school or with a caregiver. Guilt will only make you feel worse, which will in turn exacerbate the anxiety for your child.
  • Be Prepared for Setbacks – Just when it seems like your child is adjusting to her new routine, she has a new setback and you’re forced to start the process all over again. Be prepared for a few hiccups along the way, and understand that these situations are normal.
  • Know the Signs of Severe Anxiety – There’s separation anxiety, which is a normal part of your child’s development, and then there’s the more serious side of that developmental coin, separation anxiety disorder. Separation anxiety disorder strikes approximately 4% of kids, usually between the ages of seven and nine, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Excessive anxiety, extreme homesickness and refusal to separate from a loved one calmly are all symptoms of this medical condition, and are signs that you should consult with his pediatrician or family doctor.

Traveling With Toddlers

March 30, 2014

Multi-ethnic family waiting in airport

“Hayley Spurway’s Tips For Traveling with Toddlers”  was originally posted here

Take your time

The greatest thing you can take – whether at the airport, sightseeing or getting from A to B – is extra time. Toddlers love to explore and don’t care for the time pressures of travel, so you’re more likely to all retain your cool if you factor the faffing, gawping, stalling, toilet stops and tantrums into your timeframe.

Book ahead

Whether you’re camping or staying in hotels, it pays to book ahead. Trying to retain the spontaneity of travel BC (Before Children) doesn’t pay off if you arrive at your destination to find you can’t bag a bed or pitch and have to hit the road again with tired, hungry toddlers melting down in the backseat.

Give them a camera

Giving toddlers their own (robust, child-friendly) camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and focus on what interests them. You might be surprised at the results from their knee-high view. Amongst pictures of feet and wheels, my three-year-old has shot flowers, animals, helicopters, boats, rocks and rabbit poo.

Be prepared for the climate

It’s simple advice, but children dressed comfortably for the weather and terrain will be happier in a new environment. With all the gear available, there’s no excuse for dressing toddlers in ski-suits four sizes too big, forgetting their gloves, or leaving them barefoot on a beach where sea urchins lurk.

Pack Pull-Ups for potty training

Planes and public transport during the potty training days can be a nightmare. As if you didn’t have enough in your hand luggage, now you’re expected to add a potty, three changes of clothes and bags of wet, stinky pants. Potty-training gurus may disagree, but if toddlers are still having lots of little accidents then I’m all for putting them back into Pull-Ups on the plane.

Be app-y

Thanks to toddler-friendly apps, there’s no need to cram a toy box into your hand luggage when traveling by plane. By all means take a book and a magic scribbler (crayons just get lost down the side of seats), but the most compact form of entertainment is a device loaded with apps and games.

Use public transport

Most toddlers love the novelty of travelling by train, bus and boat, so ditch the hire car and use public transport where possible. In Switzerland, my two-year-old would repeat the names of the metro stops as they were announced – provoking ripples of laughter and making him even more excited about boarding the train each day.

Invest in a child locator

In my experience, toddlers aren’t fans of reins, backpacks with a leash, or any infringement on their freedom. Keep tabs on them at airports, train stations and crowded attractions with a child locator. The child wears a small unit (strapped to a belt or shoe) and you keep the transmitter. If you lose your child set off the alarm and follow the sound to find them.

Keep bugs at bay

Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer are handbag essentials. A wipe of the cutlery in restaurants where you’re unsure of hygiene, or a squirt of hand sanitizer when there’s no washing facilities, can zap a few germs and prevent toddlers catching some common bugs.

Don’t forget the medicine

Whether they’re out of routine, jet-lagged, or eating less healthily, kids always seem to get ill on holiday. Dampen the impact of broken nights, frayed temperaments and fevers by packing an easy-to-swallow medicine. Other basic ingredients in your first aid kit should include antiseptic wipes, plasters, sting treatment, and a thermometer.



Should I Put My Baby on a Schedule?

June 26, 2013
Expert Answers with Judith Owenspediatric sleep expert. Originally posted here. 

While your baby’s a newborn, he should call the shots when it comes to his eating and sleeping schedule. This may mean that days and nights are interchangeable and that there’s no clear pattern, but that’s okay for now.

Your baby actually did have an intrauterine pattern that was disrupted by labor and delivery. New babies typically are alert for an hour or so after birth before settling into a deep sleep or grogginess for the next 12 to 24 hours. During this time, hunger probably woke your baby every hour or so. You may have been able to discern a bit of a pattern by the fourth or fifth day. (If you or your baby had any complications, it may have taken a bit longer. And any medications or anesthetics that you had during labor also could have affected your baby’s sleep/awake pattern.)

While respecting your brand-new baby’s peculiar rhythms, you can gently help him begin to establish patterns that are a bit more regular. (If you’re in the hospital, keep him in your room if you can, because the stimulation of the hospital nursery can discourage any kind of natural schedule.) Feed your baby at least every two to three hours, and encourage his alertness during the day, with lots of talking, eye contact, and cuddling. At night, keep the lights and your voice low.

Internal factors, such as hunger and fatigue, seem to drive the rhythms of babies under 3 months, while older infants seem to be more influenced by environmental factors. Your baby’s maturity and temperament also play an important role. And babies who eat, sleep, and wake in erratic patterns tend to be a bit more challenging in terms of temperament, too!

As for sleep schedules, in the first year of life there’s a pretty wide range of what’s considered normal. Some babies can sleep five to six hours at a stretch by the time they’re 2 months old, for example, while others don’t until they’re 3 or even 9 months old. (In fact, 30 percent of babies don’t “sleep through the night” at 9 months.) As long as your baby seems alert, playful, and happy during his waking hours, he’s probably getting enough sleep.

Regardless of your baby’s tendencies, there are a couple of things you can do to encourage him to sleep longer at night so that his pattern becomes more family friendly: Keep naps short, about one to two hours. And add as much predictability as possible to his day. Give him meals, baths, walks, visits to the park, and bedtime on a consistent schedule.

At the same time, if he seems hungry again before his usual feeding, go ahead and feed him. And if he’s out of sorts, perhaps he needs to get to sleep a bit earlier than planned. Your goal should be to provide your baby with a consistent schedule that respects his natural patterns and personality, too.

Sooner or later, your baby will probably settle into a fairly predictable daily schedule. Even then, don’t count on its being permanent.

Your baby may keep regular hours for a while and then become completely irregular, time-wise — during a growth spurt, for example, or when he’s learning something new, such as how to roll over or sit up. At times, he may need to feed more often or require more breast milk or formula at each feeding. When this happens, rest assured that your baby will get back into a rhythm again, probably after just a couple of days.

10 Tips for Open Communication

November 14, 2012

It is vitally important to keep open communication between nanny and family. The following is a list of suggestions that may help as you work together. Here are 10 Tips for Open Communication!

1. Begin with work agreement and review on a yearly basis. Be clear and specific and follow through with what the document says. The International Nanny Association has created a nanny/family work agreement that you may want to consider using as a template for your own personal nanny/family work agreement. Click here for INA’s Nanny/Family Agreement.

2. Discuss the best methods of communication for parents and nanny. Will you talk by phone, send texts, or email?  How often will you talk throughout the day?  Talk about what is helpful communication and what is distracting.

3. Keep a daily nanny log. This is one location for parents to leave their notes and for nannies to document important things from the day. The transition as nanny arrives and leaves can be hard time to relay all details. Write those key things down.

5. Talk about frustrations when they are small, so that they do not turn into a bigger deal. Don’t have important conversations, like these, via email or text.

6. Plan regular times for nanny and parents sit down and talk without the children. During the first few months into a nanny/family relationship it may be beneficial to meet often – on a weekly basis. After the first few months, you may find that you may go longer without a formal meeting, this may look like once per month. Find a rhythm that works for you.

7.  Offer performance reviews for the nanny that include honest feedback. Nannies should know what they can do to improve in their role, as well as what they are appreciated for. Reviews can start as once every three months,  then every six months and eventually be every year.

7. Use positive words, a respectful tone, and have an open attitude. Kindness will go a long way.

8. Nannies, be your own advocate; do not be afraid to speak up for yourself.

9. Parents, your approval and support will set your nanny up for success. Remember children are always watching and listening.

10. Keep your word.

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